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Homo. 2008;59(5):383-96. doi: 10.1016/j.jchb.2007.07.001. Epub 2008 Nov 7.

Somatotype in 6-11-year-old Italian and Estonian schoolchildren.

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Department of Evolutionary and Experimental Biology, Area of Anthropology, University of Bologna, Via Selmi 3, Bologna 40126, Italy.


The study of somatotypes can contribute to the understanding of variability in human body build. The aim of this study was to compare the somatotypes of Italian and Estonian schoolchildren in order to evaluate factors that might lead to variability in somatotypes. The sample consisted of 762 Italian and 366 Estonian children aged 6-11 years. They were somatotyped by the Heath-Carter anthropometric method. Data on organised extra-curricular physical activity and hours of weekly training were also collected. One-way ANOVA was used to evaluate country-related variations of somatotype in each age/sex group, while factorial ANOVA was used to test the influence of country and organised physical activity on the variability of the anthropometric characteristics and somatotype components. There are significant differences in mean somatotypes between the Italian and Estonian children in many age classes and a different constitutional trend in children from the two different countries is observed. The Italian children are more endomorphic and less mesomorphic and ectomorphic than the Estonian children. On the other hand, it emerges from factorial ANOVA, that the somatotype components do not present significant variations related to organised physical activity and to the interaction between the country of origin and sport practice. Moreover, the results of the forward stepwise discriminant analyses show that mesomorphy is the best discriminator between the two countries, followed by ectomorphy. Our findings suggest that the observed differences between Italian and Estonian children could be related mainly to country rather than to the practice of organised physical activity in the two countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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