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Anthropometric standards for the assessment of growth and nutritional status. By A. Roberto Frisancho. Ann Arbor MI The University of Michigan Press. 1990. 189 pp. figures tables appendices. $59

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FOR THE ASSESS- The manual user is advised to take two
By replicates and record the mean if the differA. Roberto Frisancho. Ann Arbor, MI: The ence between the two is less than a specified
University of Michigan Press. 1990. 189 acceptable error. However, no advice is
pp., figures, tables, appendices. $59.50 for what to do if this error is exceeded. here
is at least one departure from the technique
recommended in the Lohman et al. volume;
Frisancho recommends that skinfold meaThis book is a useful and long-needed surements be taken after the dial reading
stand-alone clinical manual for nutritional stabilizes rather than after a 4 second delay.
assessment. It is a reference for statistical
Part I1 also presents methods for deriving
comparison of the National Health and Nu- tissue areas, com utingklassifying frame
trition Examination Survey, Cycles I and I1 size, and percent ody fat in a relatively
(NHANESI-11) anthropometric data with simple step-by-step fashion. Final1
inforother study samples. The book is divided into mation on reliability and acceptab e intra5 parts lus appendices. Part I convincingly and inter-observer technical errors is preestablis es the need for new reference data. sented.
Frisancho argues that available U S . and
In Part 111,Frisancho lays out the basis for
British data have limited utility because 1) anthropometric classification by first giving
the most wide1 available reference data are explanation and computational methods for
for height an weight alone. Detection of z scores and percentiles in an easy-to-follow
under- and over-nutrition cannot be ade- exposition. He gives a table that will allow
quately carried out without additional infor- practitioners to move from statistics to catemation (for example skinfold thicknesses gories useful in evaluating nutritional staand frame size corrections).Moreover, many tus. In Part IV, 25 tables and 54 charts are
disease states result in distortion of weight/ presented showing age, sex, and frame size
height relationships; 2) Some data are re- breakdowns for the selected measurements
sented only in chart form, thus limiting t eir including stature, weight, body mass index,
use for formal statistical comparisons; 3) sitting height, bitrochanteric breadth, elbow
Where data allowing statistical comparison breadth, upper arm circumference, triceps,
are available (e.g., the National Center for subscapular and sum of skinfold thickHealth Statistics data, Hamill et al., 1977) nesses, and percent body fat. Each table
agehex-s ecific sample sizes are small; 4) provides sample size, mean, SD, and centiles
Finally, t!
e data are old and, in some cases, 5,10,15,25,50,75,85,90,and 95. The tables
have limited generalizability to other sam- are clear and easy to use, either in the clinic
or for statistical comparisons with other
Part I1 of the book presents sample de- samples.
scription for the NHANES and descriptions
The charts present the same information
and illustrations of standard anthropomet- with centiles 5,15,50,85,and 95 along with
ric methods for the measurements subse- zones for classifying individuals (e.g., tall,
quently presented in tables and charts. Fris- above avera e, average, below average,
ancho draws on the description of technique short), thus a lowing the clinician to lot an
presented by the Anthropometric Standard- individual’s measurement and quick y evalization Reference Manual (Lohman et al., uate her status. Frisancho departs from the
1988)which in turn arose from a Consensus practice of some other standard makers of
Conference s onsored by the National Instimeticulous and sometimes complitutes of Hea th and Ross Laboratories. The cate methods for smoothing the data, and
measurement descri tions are clear and instead uses the “two-floating-point method
easy to follow, thoug they give less detail of cricket gra h (no citation offered). The
than those presented in the Lohman et al. charts themse ves are harder to use than the
book. The line drawings presented are pass- NCHS charts (Hamill et al., 1977). The unit
able, though in some instances, the pers ec- subdivisions are sometimes inconvenient
tive of the drawin s violates features o the (e.g., a marked subdivision equivalent to
recommended met od (e.g.,caliper to be held 2.5 cm), and the charts themselves are
parallel to the floor for trice s skinfolds). In smaller in area.
a few instances important c etails
are omitPart V first presents the method for corted from the descriptions. For exam le, the recting stature for parental size, then proFrankfort horizontal plane is not CYefined. ceeds to give nine examples of anthropomet-
ric data on subjects with uestions of
nutritional problems. A format or laying out
and evaluatin the information using the
charts and c assficatory techniques presented in earlier parts of the book is provided. Finally an interpretation of the findin s is given for each case.
!‘he book’s appendices are tabular presentations of data given in Part IV broken down
by race (blacks and whites). Frisancho points
out that these data are unweighted and the
reliability of the centiles may be limited by
sample size problems. He does not, however,
discuss when their use in place of the other
tables might be appropriate.
In summary, Frisancho has provided us
with a much needed single reference for
clinical and research purposes. It is a great
service that all of the information is finally
included under one cover, and we do not have
to traipse from place to place looking for it.
Hopefully, the volume’s major shortcomings
(problems with measurement descri tion
and the difficulties with the form o the
charts) can be corrected in subsequent editions.
Department of Ant hropo1ogy
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, Illinois
Lohman TG, Roche AF, and Martorell R (eds.) (1988)
Anthropometric Standardization Reference Manual.
Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics Books.
Hamill P W , Drizd TA, Johnson CL, Reed RB, and Roche
AF (1977) NCHS growth curves for children (Department of Health Education, and Welfare Pub [PHS]
78-1650).Washington, DC: US. Government Printing
AND ROLE recording of human pigmentation starts
By Spencer L. with the shaky premise that “the most signifRogers. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Tho- icant part of the environment of human bemas. 1990. vii + 60 pp., figures, glossary,
index, $17.75 (cloth).
The Colors of Mankind sets out to deal
with the range and role of human pigmentation, the geographical distribution of color
variation in Homo sapiens, and purports to
deal with the evolutionary significance of
skin color, hair color, and eye color. If the
reader expects to be enlightened b this volume published by the prestigious harles C.
Thomas publishing house, this reviewer predicts disappointment. Tragically for a work
ap earing in 1990 this work makes singular y naive statements, and should be best
seen as a work that lists some of the mythologies that have hung around for so long
around the “race and color” campfire. The
only use I can think of for this work, as a
learning or as a teaching tool, is to hand it to
students to critique. Many statements in
this work range from confusing to obscure, or
lead the reader to wonder about the sources
of knowledge from which these utterances
The book consists of four chapters each of
which does not fulfill the promise of its chapter heading. Chapter 1 on the range and
ings consists of other human beings” and
that “details of igmentation are often more
consequential t an any other physical variable in human appearance.”The author then
oes on to state that “these colors frequently
fead to acceptance and trust or to suspicion
and rejection. They may promote sexual attraction or disinterest” ( . 1).No evidence is
presented to back up t ese rather contentious opinions.
The main purpose of the book is stated as
an intent “to review some of the major theories as to the significance of body colors in
human evolution.” For physical anthropologists this intent is just not carried out.
Chapter 1 goes on to provide a rather
simple description of human skin and its
pigmentation and is littered with statements
such as “the fla of skin and hair color
signals racial affifation, friendshi , or hostility” (p. 6 ) ,or “The camouflage ro e is probably limited to the lighter skinned eoples
who may have had darker head air or
patches of lighter or darker body hair that
made them somewhat less visible ’(p. 13).No
supporting data is provided and one is expected to accept that “Greying is noticeable
among Europeans, usually from the mid30s, and among Negroes 10 years later” be-
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