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Am J Hum Biol. 2001 Jul-Aug;13(4):539-47.

Body size, composition, and blood pressure of high-altitude Quechua from the Peruvian Central Andes (Huancavelica, 3,680 m).

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Dipartimento di Biologia evoluzionistica sperimentale, Universit√° di Bologna, Italy.


Although much information is available about the effects of high altitude on physiological characteristics, less is know about its effect on body composition. In the present study, anthropometric and body composition variables were investigated in a sample of 77 adult Quechua males from the Peruvian Central Andes (Huancavelica, 3,680 m). The subjects are shorter in relation to body weight than other ethnic groups, whereas body proportions are macrocormic (indicating a long trunk relative to the lower extremities), with intermediate values of the acromial-iliac index. All skinfold thicknesses are low (approximately 15th percentiles of NHANES reference values for the triceps and subscapular skinfolds), but tend to be higher than in the other Quechua populations. Similar results are obtained when percentage fat is estimated. Somatotypes are dominant in mesomorphy with very low ectomorphy. Comparison with a sample of high-altitude Kirghiz (3,200 m), previously studied with the same methods, shows higher values in the Peruvian sample for all variables related to adiposity. The presence of low adiposity in the Quechua population could be associated with stresses of the high-altitude environment. Mean values of blood pressure are very low and there is no correlation with age.

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