The purpose of this study was to find out the differences in body physique and its proportions between children from Creole, Maya and Mestizo ethnic groups living in Merida, Mexico. The study was conducted between 1996–1999 and comprised of 4636 children and youth aged 6–18 years from three ethnic groups: Maya, Mestizo, and Creole. There were 1362 boys and 1314 girls from Creole group and 803 boys and 857 girls from the pooled Maya/Mestizo group. Anthropometric measurements included body height, arm and leg length, shoulder and hip width. The following indexes were calculated: leg length-to-body height, upper-to-lower limb, shoulder-to-body height, hip-to-body height, and hip-to-shoulder. Two-way analysis of variance (two-way ANOVA) was used to test the main effect and the interaction effects of age and ethnicity on height, leg length and body proportions, separately for boys and girls. All statistical analyses were performed using Statistica software version 13.1. All p-values lower than 0.05 were considered significant. Results of this study revealed that average values of body height, leg length and upper-to-lower limb and shoulder width proportions were statistically significantly different between ethnic groups. Creole children were taller and longer-legged than their Maya/Mestizo peers, and the greatest difference was noted after puberty. Maya/Mestizo children had relatively longer arm as compared to Creoles. Results of two-way ANOVA revealed that age and ethnicity were combined (interaction effect) factors for variation in body height both in boys and girls, and upper-to-lower limb proportion in boys, shoulder-to-body height proportion in girls. Ethnicity was the main effect factor for leg length both in boys and girls, and for the body proportions: upper-to-lower limb in girls and shoulder-to-body height in boys. Age was the main effect factor for upper-to-lower limb proportion in girls, shoulder-to-body height in boys, hip-to-body height in boys and girls, and hip-to-shoulder, both in boys and girls. In conclusion it may be stated that variation in body physique and body proportions during the postnatal growth in different ethnic groups is under the influence of complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors to which the individual is exposed.
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