Comparison of change in obesity parameters and the relationship between changes in body composition and physiological and psychological health status

  • Nicola Brown

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Given the seriousness of obesity as a health issue, accurate measures of
obesity are important for research, diagnostic and weight loss programmes.
The standard accepted measure is body mass index (BMI), but over-reliance
on BMI and body mass is a limitation of current research and the need for
more sensitive measures of body composition is recognised. The work
described in this thesis compared the utility of traditionally used
anthropometric measures (TAM)1 with alternative anthropometric measures
Study One compared change in TAM with change in AAM in individuals on a
self-determined weight loss programme. It was hypothesised that AAM would
show greater magnitudes of change than TAM. Level I ISAK3 anthropometric
assessments were conducted monthly on 10 male (58.5 ± 16.5 years) and
50 female (52.2 ± 14.9 years) overweight/obese individuals over a year.
Σ8SF and endomorphy showed significantly greater magnitudes of change
than body mass and WHR, however comparable magnitudes of change to
BMI and %BF. Thus, the hypothesis was accepted for L8SF and
endomorphy compared to mass and WHR only. Σ8SF represents body
composition and does not require transformation from other variables.
Furthermore, it showed significant change that weight-related parameters
failed to identify. Therefore it is concluded that this measure could be used to
monitor weight loss. Conversely, the benefits of somatotype were less
evident and due to the time and expertise required to obtain these measures,
it is concluded that somatotype should not be considered for routine use.
Study Two examined if anthropometric measures were correlated with
psychological risk factors. Participants in Study One completed Fox &
Corbin's Physical Self-Perception Profile (PSPP) measuring constructs of physical condition, body attractiveness and physical self-worth. It washypothesised that MM would show stronger correlations to PSPP constructsthan TAM. Findings identified that high BMI, body mass, %BF, Σ8SF andendomorphy were associated with low physical self-perceptions. Howeverthere were no differences in the strength of relationships with MM or TAM,and changes in PSPP constructs showed weak correlations with changes inboth measures. Thus the hypotheses were rejected. It is concluded thatfocusing on health-related behaviours, as opposed to reducinganthropometric measures, may be a more constructive approach to reducingobesity.Study Three tested the hypothesis that MM would show strongerassociations to markers of metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) than TAM. Level IISAK3 profiles were conducted on 6 male (47.9±1S.0 years) and 20 female(43.4 ± 17.4 years) overweighUobese participants on self-determined weightloss programmes. Blood markers" were measured through capillary fingertipblood samples. Waist circumference, systolic and diastolic blood pressurewere recorded to obtain all the diagnostic criteria for MetSyn. All measureswere repeated after a 6-month interval. BMI and mass showed strongestcorrelations with MetSyn markers and moderate relationships were identifiedbetween weight loss and improvement in MetSyn components. Thehypothesis was rejected. It is concluded that the clinical utility of somatotypemeasures in assessing change in MetSyn status appears limited and weightloss should be the first line treatment of MetSyn.In conclusion, somatotyping appears to have limited utility for monitoringchange in overweighUobese individuals and no obvious benefit in assessingan individual's health status from a physiological or psychological standpoint.However Σ8SF, that reflects changes in body composition and is sensitive tochange, may be a useful measure to monitor weight loss inoverweighUobese individuals.
Date of AwardJul 2010
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorClare Eglin (Supervisor) & Mike Tipton (Supervisor)

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