To describe and compare anthropometric characteristics among populations of 75-year-olds in three Nordic localities and to investigate possible relationships with chronic heart disease (CHD), chronic lung disease (CLD), diabetes mellitus, arthrosis and life-style factors such as smoking and physical activity.
Anthropometric data were measured in 104 men and 191 women in Jyvaskyla (Finland), 196 men and 209 women in Glostrup (Denmark) and in 127 men and 167 women in Goteborg (Sweden). Variables assessed were body height, body weight, BMI, waist/hip ratio, skinfolds from several sites and percent body fat by bioelectrical impedance. The diagnosis of diseases were made by a physician based on the individual's medical history, drugs and medical examination. Physical activity was recorded by self-rating.
Men in Goteborg were taller and had a higher body weight while there was no difference in BMI among the men. Among women, those in Goteborg were tallest, while those in Jyvaskyla had the highest body weight, BMI, percent of body fat and waist/hip ratio. Biceps and triceps skinfolds were highest in men from Goteborg, while in women triceps and subscapular skinfolds were highest in those from Jyvaskyla. CHD was most common in those from Jyvaskyla, and women with CHD had a higher body weight, BMI and lean body mass in all three localities. Lean body mass was lower in men and women with CLD and women with CLD were also shorter, with a lower body weight, BMI, and percent body fat. Diabetes mellitus was associated with a higher body weight, BMI, percent body fat and lean body mass in women, but not in men. Both men and women with arthrosis had a higher BMI, while smoking was only associated with CHD in those from Jyvhskyla. In men with CHD the proportion of persons with low physical activity was higher in all three localities. The physical activity was also lower among men with CLD and diabetes mellitus in Goteborg and Glostrup.
There were anthropometric differences among 75-year-olds in the three Nordic localities. CHD and CLD were associated with various anthropometric variables. These findings may reflect either cause and effect relationships between diseases and anthropometric characteristics or differences in life-style factors influencing morbidity.