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Changes in somatotypes of European males between 17 and 24 years.

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Changes in Somatotypes of European Males between
17 and 24 Years'
Department ofPhysical Education, S u n Diego State Uniuersity. S u n Diego, California,
1J.S.A. 92182 and V U FTVS, Charles Unioersity,
lljezd 450,11807Prague 1, C.S.S.R
Somatotype. Somatotype stability. Young males
I n order to examine the possible changes in somatotype of young
males, 14 boys who had been somatotyped annually from 11 to 18 years by t h e
Heath-Carter anthropometric rating method were re-somatotyped at 24 years.
The analysis focused on years 17, 18 and 24. Discriminant analysis, somatotype
dispersion indices and distances, and the I-index were used to analyze the
data. The findings showed a significant shift in somatotype from ectomorphmesomorph towards endo-mesomorphy between 17 and 24 years. This shift was
greater than t h a t observed by Zuk ('58), and was in the same direction. I t is hypothesized t h a t t h e somatotypes of males become more endo-mesomorphic from
17 years to the mid-twenties.
Although t h e r e have been studies on
changes in somatotypes of children, little a t tention has been paid to possible changes in
adults. Several studies, all using the HeathCarter somatotype method (Carter, '751, have
provided little information on this problem.
Zuk ('58) showed t h a t young males become
more endo-mesomorphic and less ectomorphic
between 17 and 33 years. Carter and Phillips
('69) showed that, in a group of middleaged males, cardiovascular exercise reduced
endomorphy while a non-exercising control
group increased endomorphy during a twoyear period. In a study of young males who
underwent strenuous physical training for
four months, Carter and Rahe ('75) showed
t h a t mesomorphy increased and endomorphy
and ectomorphy decreased. A recent study
by PaEizkova and Carter ('76) examined the
stability of somatotypes of Czechoslovakian
boys followed longitudinally from 11 until 18
years. The authors concluded t h a t the individual somatotypes of boys changed considerably
but the somatoplots for each year were similar. Because of t h e need for more data on t h e
longitudinal changes in somatotypes of young
men the purpose of this study was to follow
and compare the somatotypes of Czechoslovakian young men at 17, 18 and 24 years.
AM. J . PHYS. ANTHKOP. (1978) 48: 251-254.
The subjects were 14 males from a previous
study (Pafizkova and Carter, '76) who were remeasured at age 24 by the reported methods,
but whose physical activity since t h e last test
was not controlled. (These 14 subjects were
the only ones of the original 39 who were
available for remeasurement.) The HeathCarter anthropometric somatotypes were calculated, plotted on somatocharts, and analyzed by means of t h e somatotype dispersion
index (SDI), somatotype dispersion distance
(SDD), and I-index (Carter, '75; Ross and
Wilson, '73; Ross, '76). Descriptive statistics
were calculated at each year from 11 to 18,
and a t 24 years of age, for height, weight, and
t h e three somatotype components.
From 11 to 17 years the means for age,
height, weight, endomorphy,mesomorphy, and
ectomorphy were similar to the means of the
original group (n = 39) from which they were
drawn, indicating t h a t t h e sample did not contain any bias with respect to size and shape.
' This study was supported in part by a grant from the San Diego
State University Foundation. The authors gratefully acknowledge
the assistance of Stephen P Auhry in developing the somatotype cumputer programs.
Fig. 1 Mean somatoplots of Czechoslovakian males (circles) somatotyped at ages 11 through 18 (numbers 1
through 8 ) and at 24 (9).The triangles are the mean somatoplots of Zuks ('58)males at ages 17 and 33.
A stepwise discriminant analysis, using t h e
above variables (except age), was applied to
detect significant differences among t h e 17,
18 and 24 year-olds. The greatest discrimination was due to weight (increase), followed by
endomorphy (increase), with significant Fratios (p > 0.05) between 17 and 24, and 18
and 24 years. There was no discrimination between ages 17 and 18 at any of the steps. At
steps three, four, and five, the addition of
mesomorphy (increase), height (increase), and
ectomorphy (decrease), only served to discriminate between 17 and 24 years. The percentage of cases correctly classified into age
groups were 57% (17 years), 43% (18 years),
and 57% (24 years).
The mean somatoplots for each of the nine
years were plotted on t h e X, Y coordinates of
t h e somatochart as-shown in figure 1. The
mean somatotypes (S)and their X,Y coordinates for 17, 18 and 24 years were: SI7= 1.71
- 4.04 - 3.36 (1.65, 3.00); S18 = 2.39 - 4.68
- 2.96 (0.57, 4.00); and
= 2.68 - 5.39 2.54 (-0.14, 5.56).
The means remained very close to t h e 2-43.5 somatotype from 11-17 years, with a n average SDD between consecutive mean somatoplots of 0.91. Between 17 and 18, and 18
- 2
and 17 years @,I, plotted
Fig. 2 The I-index for the somatoplots of Czechoslovakian males ages 24years 6,)
with centers on 3, andS, and radii equal to SDI, and SDI, respectively. The I-index equals 28.8, and the SDD between S, and S, equals 4.02.
and 24 years the SDD’s were 2.11 and 1.99 respectively, with the means moving in a northwesterly direction towards endo-mesomorphy
and away from ectomorphy, to a n approximate somatotype of 2.5-5.5-2.5 (a balanced
mesomorph). Both SDD’s were significant
beyond the 2.5% level of confidence for a onetailed t-test. The SDD between 17 and 24
years was 4.02 (p > 0.01)with a direction of
-50.5”. In order to test the significance of
the differences between 17 and 24 years by
somatotype components, a two-tailed paired
t - t e s t was applied to the mean values for
endomorphy, mesomorphy, and ectomorphy.
Endomorphy (p > 0.05) and mesomorphy (p >
0.01) increased and ectomorphy (p > 0.01) de-
creased. Apparently, the shift in the somatoplots was accounted for by significant changes
in all three components. The mean somatoplots for Zuk's ('58) data are also shown in
figure 1. The SDD between 17 and 33 years
was 2.09 - a value which was about the same
in magnitude and direction as each of the
SDD's from 17 to 18 and 18 to 24 years, but
about half the SDD from 17 to 24 years for the
present study.
In order to study the individual patterns at
17, 18 and 24 years, the somatoplots for each
of the 14 subjects were plotted. All subjects
moved in the direction of endo-mesomorphy
between 17 and 24 years. Between 1 7 and 78
years one subject did not change, and one
reduced endomorphy by a half-unit. Between
18 and 24 years two subjects did not change,
one subject became less endomorphic, and one
more ecto-mesomorphic. The rank difference
correlations between ages 17 and 24 for endomorphy, mesomorphy, and ectomorphy were
0.91, 0.94, and 0.96 respectively. These correlations are much higher t h a n those reported
for a 7-year span in the younger groups (Pafizkova and Carter, '761, indicating a greater relationship within components during early
Ross ('76) has described how the basic concepts of t h e SDD and SDI may be used to derive a n I-index to show the amount of commonality between samples. The I-index is a
ratio derived from the intersection of circles
drawn with centers on the mean somatoplots
(S,and S,)and radii equal to SDI, and SDI,.
Thus, the I-index is based on a geometrical
model representing any pair of somatoplots,
and is described a s I = (area in common/sum
of area of 2 circles-area not in common) x 100.
When I = 100, the circles are concentric and
have equal radii, and when I = 0, there is no
overlapping between t h e circles. The I-index
was applied to the somatoplots at all ages, but
only the circles representing the I-index of the
17 and 24 year-olds are shown in figure 2. The
I - i n d i c e s b e t w e e n s e q u e n t i a l y e a r s (11
through 17) averaged 64.1 (low index = 52.0,
high index = 78.4), but the smallest values
were between 24 years and ages 13 through 17
(I = 22.3; low index = 16.5, high index =
28.2). Between 17 and 18, I = 52.0, between 17
and 24 I = 28.8, and between 18 and 24 I =
59.5. This analysis shows t h a t there is considerable overlap in somatoplots in the adoles-
cent years but t h a t between 17 and 24 years
the somatoplots are displaced in the direction
of endo-mesomorphy and show less overlap.
The subjects increased 9.8 kg in mean
weight from 17 to 24 years, and this weight
can be accounted for by the increases in
endomorphy and mesomorphy. This finding is
also supported by observed mean increments
in percentage of body fat (10.3-11.9%)and in
lean body mass (63.3-68.1kg) (Pafizkova, '77).
On the basis of the foregoing analysis i t is
apparent t h a t the subjects had a significant
shift in somatotype towards endo-mesomorphy. The consistency of this shift is in contrast t o the inconsistency observed in the
younger males (Pafizkovk and Carter, '76.1. In
addition, the shift was greater t h a n that observed by Zuk ('581, but was in the same direction. I t is important to note that this study
and those referred to all used the HeathCarter somatotype method which, although
using the same terminology as the traditional
somatotype methods of Sheldon and his colleagues, differs in concept and method. One
difference is that somatotypes are rated as
present somatotypes and permanence is not
assumed. The Zuk ('58) study was one of the
first studies in which Heath rated the subjects
using her modifications of somatotyping. Although these studies are limited, the following
hypothesis is proposed for further testing:
The somatotypes of males become more endomesomorphic from 17 years to the midtwenties.
Carter, J. E. L. 1975 The Heath-Carter Somatotype
Method. Revisededition. San Diego State University, San
Diego, California.
Carter, J. E. L.. and W. H. Phillips 1969 Structural changes
in exercising middle-aged males during a 2 ~ y e a period.
Appl. Physiol., 27: 787-794.
Carter, J . E. L.. and R. H. Kahe 1975 Effects of stressful underwater demolition training on body structure. Med. and
Science in Sports, 7: 304-308.
PaEizkova, J. 1977 Body fat and physical fitness. Martinus Nijhooff, The Hague, Netherlands.
Paiizkova, J., and J. E. L. Carter 1976 Influence of physical
activity on stability of somatotypes in boys. Am. J. Phys.
Anthrop., 44: 327-340.
Ross, W. D. 1976 Metaphorical models in the study of
human shape and proportionality. In: Physical Education, Sports and t h e Sciences. J. Broekhoeff, ed.
Microcard Publications, Eugene, Oregon, 284-304.
Ross, W. D., and B. D. Wilson 1973 A somatotype dispersion
index. Res. Quart., 44: 372-374.
Zuk, G. H. 1958 The plasticity of the physique from early
adolescence through adulthood. J. of Genet. Psych., 92:
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years, change, malen, somatotypes, european
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