Anthropometry – Concept, types, nutrition, architecture and more


We explain what anthropometry is and its role in nutrition and architecture. Also, its relationship with ergonomics.

anthropometry nutrition measurement ergonomics architecture
Anthropometry makes it possible to compare body proportions over time or between populations.

What is anthropometry?

Laa anthropometry (word formed by the Greek voices anthropos, “Man”, and metrikós, “measure”) is the scientific study of the measurement techniques of the human body. It is a branch of physical anthropology that is interested in the proportions of the human body and its different ways of interpreting them, especially when they allow comparisons in time or between human groups.

Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptian or the Greek applied their own methods of measuring the human body, either for practical or artistic purposes. However, anthropometry emerged in the eighteenth century, in conjunction with physical anthropology, to the extent that human scholars wanted to establish physical and bodily comparisons between one “race” and another of humanity.

In 1870 the Anthropométrie by the Belgian Adolphe Quételet (1796-1874), considered as the fundamental work in the structuring and foundation of formal anthropometric studies. Secondly, in the mid-twentieth century anthropometry finally proved its practical value in industry, in a prolific period in wars and armament development.

Currently, the application areas of anthropometry cover numerous areas and disciplines, driven by different intentions and motives, such as certain methods of public planning and measuring the health of populations, for example, given that the average of the measurements of the population body (height, thickness, weight) are indicative of the nutrition and health of families.

Static and dynamic anthropometry

dynamic static anthropometry
Dynamic anthropometry studies the human body in motion.

Anthropometry is classified into two types: static and dynamic.

  • Static or structural anthropometry is dedicated to the measurement of the human body in its static dimensions, that is, in a fixed and determined position, whether standing or sitting, fundamental for the design of workplaces, furniture or environments.
  • Dynamic anthropometry or functional On the contrary, it considers the human body in its enormous capacity for movement, that is, the human body doing things, such as in variable work positions, emphasizing the joints and the dynamics of the body’s extremities.

Anthropometry and ergonomics

Ergonomics is the discipline that studies how to adapt the work environment to the human body in the most harmonious and healthy way possible. Consequently, it is a major beneficiary of anthropometry.

Measurements of the human body and its physical understanding allow the design of increasingly ergonomic tools and work environments, that is, less damaging in the face of the human structure, and therefore less tiring and exhausting. This has a direct impact on productivity, since extends the work capacity of individuals, but also allows to preserve health of workers in the medium and long term.

A) Yes, ergonomic tools are configured with anthropometric measurements in mind of the human body, and therefore are better adapted to it.

Anthropometry in nutrition

anthropometry nutrition feeding
Anthropometry records growth and can indicate necessary changes in nutrition.

Another important debtor of anthropometric measurement is nutrition, that is, the discipline that studies human nutrition and its medium and long-term impact on populations, something very relevant for public health.

In this case, anthropometry collaborates with nutrition Because the measurements of the human body allow to keep a record of how the new generations grow and also to compare between the social classes, social sectors and geographical areas of a country.

In addition, anthropometry indicates how new citizens are being born. Thus, together with nutrition, it can find the nutritional factors that can influence it: the greater the availability of nutritional resources, the larger the size of the human body; and vice versa.

Anthropometry in architecture

Architecture also owes a lot to anthropometry, since knowledge of the standard measurements of the human body are key in the design of living spaces. The way a space is designed has a direct impact on people’s physical, emotional and psychological health, and for this reason it is vital to fully understand the dimensions of the human body.