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In NPJ aging and mechanisms of disease

Body shape and composition are heterogeneous among humans with possible impact for health. Anthropometric methods and data are needed to better describe the diversity of the human body in human populations, its age dependence, and associations with health risk. We applied whole-body laser scanning to a cohort of 8499 women and men of age 40-80 years within the frame of the LIFE (Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases) study aimed at discovering health risk in a middle European urban population. Body scanning delivers multidimensional anthropometric data, which were further processed by machine learning to stratify the participants into body types. We here applied this body typing concept to describe the diversity of body shapes in an aging population and its association with physical activity and selected health and lifestyle factors. We find that aging results in similar reshaping of female and male bodies despite the large diversity of body types observed in the study. Slim body shapes remain slim and partly tend to become even more lean and fragile, while obese body shapes remain obese. Female body shapes change more strongly than male ones. The incidence of the different body types changes with characteristic Life Course trajectories. Physical activity is inversely related to the body mass index and decreases with age, while self-reported incidence for myocardial infarction shows overall the inverse trend. We discuss health risks factors in the context of body shape and its relation to obesity. Body typing opens options for personalized anthropometry to better estimate health risk in epidemiological research and future clinical applications.

Frenzel Alexander, Binder Hans, Walter Nadja, Wirkner Kerstin, Loeffler Markus, Loeffler-Wirth Henry