military

Anthropometric Characteristics of Iranian Military Personnel and their Changes over Recent Years

1Health Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

2Faculty of Health, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3Safety and Health Research Center of Iranian Army, Tehran, Iran

4Ergonomics Board, Ministry of Health, Tehran, Iran

Correspondence to

Gholamhossein Pourtaghi, PhD, Health Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Sheikh Bahaee St, Molla Sadra St, Tehran, Iran

Tel: +98-912-119-3437

Fax: +98-21-8821-0904

E-mail: ghpourtaghi@yahoo.com

Received: Dec 13, 2013

Accepted: Apr 27, 2014

Abstract

Background: In most armies, clothes, equipment and weapons are designed according to the physical characteristics and anthropometric data of soldiers.

Objective: To study the anthropometric characteristics of Iranian army force and their changes over recent years.

Methods: 12 635 Iranian military personnel aged between 18 and 30 years with tenure of <10 years who were normally engaged in educational military activities and soldiers were enrolled in this study, which was conducted in 2010.

Results: The military personnel had a mean±SD stature of 174.1±6.3 cm and sitting height of 89.7±3.8 cm. They had a mean weight of 70.0 kg, and body mass index of 23.3 kg/m2.

Conclusion: The stature of Iranian army has increased by 14 mm during the last 15 years. The stature was less than those of the western countries and 3–4 cm more than those of East Asian personnel. The body mass index has had an increasing trend.

Keywords: Human engineering; Anthropometry; Military personnel; Equipment design; Iran

Introduction

Problems with ergonomics at work may cause musculoskeletal disorders, early fatigue, physical inabilities, and even accidents and diseases. Design of military machinery, weapons, and equipment should thus be according to soldiers' body dimensions and ergonomic principles. The standard program to measure physical dimensions of the US military force dates back to 1775. Thereafter, a database of the anthropometric dimensions of the military force was developed in 1970 and has been in use as a standard for the physical dimensions for designing the required equipment and accessories of the army. These standards have been modified constantly over the past 200 years. Each sector of the US army has declared a number as the maximum allowable weight to height ratio for employment and recruitment. The military sectors are obliged to pay attention to these ratios. In 1995, almost 5000 American military forces were dismissed from the army because of weight to height mismatch.1

Nowadays, most of the armies produce their military clothes, weapons, and equipment according to the physical characteristics of their soldiers. To prevent the production of instruments which are not fit for their personnel, the need to perform anthropometric measures.2 Furthermore, they need to study the temporal changes made in the physical dimensions and military force ability over years. In a study on the physical dimensions of the US military personnel, Anderson asserted that most of the injuries and damages which occurred during military trainings happened to those who suffered from inappropriate body dimensions.3

Many countries measure the anthropometric dimensions of their military personnel on alternate years to be able to design their work settings and tools and equipment based on anthropometrically updated information.4 In a study on a large sample of 17–20-year-old American population, Rochelle found that 13%–56% of participants were not fit for military standards with regard to their gender and age, and that most of the mismatch was among the Afro-Americans.5 It is possible for various people with different dimensions to work properly with tools and equipment suitable for their physical characteristics by employing anthropometry to equipment and work setting design. Designing based on anthropometric data leads to eliminating awkward postures and their subsequent complications for the body.6 Therefore, being informed of body characteristics and individuals' anthropomorphic dimensions is essential for having an effective work setting, even for those with physical disabilities.7

McNolty showed that anthropometric dimensions of personnel are among the most important factors causing physical injuries in the US army.8 Henderson believes that most of the injuries occurred in US military personnel are due to unfit physical dimensions and their mismatch with tools and equipment.9

The significance of ergonomics and considering the physical dimensions of the soldiers in designing are increasingly acknowledged by Iranian army. The earliest data available on Iranians' body dimensions dates back to an anthropological research performed in 1934 by Henry Field, affiliated to the American Museum of Natural History.10 Field analyzed different Iranian tribes, including Kurds, Lors, Turks, Arabs, Fars, and the Jews, and measured many anthropometric parameters, especially stature and cranial dimensions.

The first research on anthropometry and design in Iran's army was proposed and designed in 1970 by Nourani and Dillard11 in Army's Department of Health and was performed by Kennedy, White, and Hendrix12 who measured the anthropometric data of 7784 Iranian soldiers for designing military shoes and clothes. The last study conducted on the anthropometry measurements of Iranian Military ground forces was conducted in 1995, where 2130 soldiers and military staff were evaluated.13 We therefore conducted this study to determine the ergonomics and anthropometric measures of the military forces of Iran. We also studied the temporal changes occurred over recent years in the indices.

Materials and Methods

A total of 12 635 military ground force personnel aged between 18 and 30 years (including soldiers) with tenure of <10 years who were normally engaged in educational activities, was studied. The participants were selected using a systematic random sampling method. They were also stratified by age, ie, 18–20, 21–25, and 26–30 years.

Physical dimensions of the personnel were measured by a stadiometer, which is consisted of two scaled perpendicular sheets with a measurement accuracy of 1 mm. For the measurements, the proposed method of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) was used.14 This method, which has also been used by the US army, conforms to the proposed ISO methods for anthropometric and ergonomic design principles.15,16 Body weight was measured with an accuracy of 0.1 kg (Ziemens, Germany).

For each participant, we recorded weight and 89 more parameters.17 The most important parameters studied were standing posture, sitting posture, and breadth and depths of different parts of the body.

Appropriate instructions and guidelines for measurement teams were provided. Measurement teams were first instructed about the way they should work; they were familiarized with all landmarks (Fig 1) that were to be measured and about how to choose them.18 The team became fully proficient in working with stadiometer and practicing the anthropometric methods.

Military.jpg

Figure 1: Some anthropometric parameters measured in this study

The accuracy and reliability of anthropometric data are related to method of measurement, standardization of tools and characteristics of population.19 The stadiometer was calibrated after each replacement; all calipers were used according to the recommended method by Osquei-Zadeh.20 An expert in anthropometry supervised each site before starting data collection. The coefficient of reliability of parameters calculated was above 95% for all measurements.

The collected data was analyzed by SPSS® for Windows® ver 17. Student's t test for independent variables was used to compare the means between two groups. A p value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Result

Table 1 shows a number of statistics for the standing and sitting height of the studied participants. Measures of hands, legs, head, and body surfaces are presented in Table 2.

Table 1: Stature and sitting height of the studied participants. The unit of measurement is cm. For numbers in the first column, see Figure 1.

No.

Parameter

Mean±SD

Range

Percentile

5th

25th

50th

75th

95th

1

Stature

174.1± 6.3

153.6–225.0

164.6

170.0

173.9

178.0

185.4

2

Cervical Height

147.9±5.9

131.2–195.2

138.9

144.0

147.7

151.7

158.0

3

Shoulder (Acromion) Height

144.6±5.8

125.7–166.0

135.5

140.7

144.6

148.2

155.0

4

Waist Height Standing

101.6±5.8

73.9–128.0

92.0

98.0

101.5

105.2

111.3

5

Crotch Height Standing

75.5±5.0

47.8–92.0

67.7

72.2

75.4

79.0

84.0

6

Knee Height Standing

50.5±4.1

44.0–60.5

45.0

48.2

50.3

52.5

56.3

7

Calf Height Standing

37.3±3.8

22.0–56.6

31.0

35.0

37.3

39.6

43.0

8

Functional Arm Reach Forward

83.9±4.3

56.2–99.2

77.5

81.4

84.0

86.6

90.5

9

Elbow Height Standing

108.9±5.4

97.7–158.8

101.0

105.3

108.9

112.0

117.5

10

Tip Finger Height Standing

72.9±4.3

49.3–93.4

66.0

70.4

72.8

75.5

80.0

11

Eye Height Standing

163.6±6.6

143.0–191.0

153.0

159.0

163.3

167.8

175.4

12

Vertical Functional Arm Reach Standing

212.2±8.1

188.2–246.6

199.5

206.8

212.0

217.5

225.7

13

Elbow to Elbow Length Standing

46.7±4.0

35.0–61.8

41.0

44.1

46.7

49.0

53.7

14

Arm Reach Up Sitting Rest

136.5±5.1

119.4–164.5

129.8

133.6

136.7

139.2

143.8

15

Sitting Rest Height

89.7±3.8

83.0–122.8

85.8

87.5

89.3

91.1

94.3

16

Eye Height Sitting Rest

77.7±4.1

69.5–98.3

73.2

75.5

77.7

79.6

82.9

17

Min-Shoulder Height Sitting Rest

63.2±3.5

51.0–82.5

59.7

61.1

63.0

64.6

67.5

18

Shoulder (Acromion) Height Sitting Rest

60.6±3.6

40.5–69.9

57.0

59.0

60.6

62.0

65.2

19

Knee Height Sitting Rest

54.5±3.3

41.5–64.6

50.0

53.0

54.3

56.0

59.0

20

Popliteal Height Sitting Rest

42.4±2.4

31.0–55.5

39.0

41.0

42.3

43.8

46.0

21

Elbow Height Sitting

25.5±3.1

21.5–42.7

22.5

24.0

25.5

26.7

19.0

22

Functional Leg Length

105.1±6.9

83.0–153.5

95.9

101.0

104.3

408.5

118.0

23

Acromion to Right Wrist Height

71.7±7.6

49.0–95.9

61.0

65.4

70.9

78.2

84.0

24

Hip Length

33.2±2.7

20.0–64.0

29.3

32.0

33.2

34.6

37.1

25

Chest Length

27.9±3.1

16.2–52.1

23.3

25.9

27.8

29.9

33.3

26

Chest Depth

21.4±2.7

11.0–42.3

17.2

20.0

21.3

22.7

25.7

27

Arm Reach Forehead

76.7±4.5

47.2–99.0

70.3

73.8

76.4

79.0

85.0

28

Shoulder Elbow Length

36.6±2.5

23.7–49.2

32.4

35.3

36.8

38.3

40.4

29

Forearm Hand Length

46.5±2.9

26.0–59.0

42.6

45.0

46.6

48.1

50.8

30

Shoulder Length

43.6±3.2

30.2–59.0

38.9

41.6

43.5

45.6

49.4

31

Elbow to Elbow Length

41.2±5.0

22.2–59.8

34.2

37.8

40.8

44.1

50.6

32

Hip Breadth Sitting Rest

35.5±3.2

20.3–66.7

31.1

33.7

35.3

37.3

40.5

33

Elbow to Elbow Length

46.4±4.9

21.1–61.8

39.0

43.2

46.1

49.4

55.0

34

Buttock-Knee Length

57.2±3.4

25.1–69.5

52.1

55.8

57.4

59.3

61.7

35

Buttock-Popliteal Length

45.5±3.1

36.7–58.3

40.6

43.6

45.5

47.5

50.6

36

Depth Abdominal

20.9±4.0

13.4–48.0

16.0

18.5

20.2

22.8

28.8

37

Depth Thigh Sitting Rest

13.9±2.0

9.9–25.5

10.9

12.6

13.8

15.2

17.9

38

Elbow Height Sitting Rest

25.7±3.5

15.4–57.5

20.2

23.5

25.7

27.8

31.2

39

Back Waist Length

50.0±3.9

36.8–64.0

43.5

48.0

50.0

52.0

57.0

40

Shoulder Length

16.3±2.5

9.5–25.0

12.1

14.1

17.0

18.0

20.0

41

Armpit to Armpit Back

42.1±4.8

26.0–63.1

32.4

39.5

42.4

45.2

49.0

42

Back Chest Length

57.3±7.8

30.0–74.1

35.5

55.6

59.0

62.0

66.2

43

Hand Armpit to Wrist

49.0±4.8

30.5–71.3

42.4

46.3

49.0

51.0

55.7

44

Spine to Wrist (Hand Forward)

85.9±5.8

56.8–100.6

77.5

83.0

86.5

89.5

93.3

Table 2: Hands, legs, head, and body surface sizes of the studied participants. The unit of measurement is cm. For numbers in the first column, see Figure 1.

No.

Parameter

Mean±SD

Range

Percentile

5th

25th

50th

75th

95th

45

Head Circumference

55.7±2.8

32.0–76.4

53.0

55.0

56.0

57.0

59.0

46

Neck Circumference

36.3±2.8

22.5–57.4

32.7

34.5

36.0

37.8

42.0

47

Shoulder Circumference

114.9±7.5

85.0–146.4

103.9

110.0

114.2

119.0

129.0

48

Chest Circumference

93.6±7.4

53.0–125.0

83.9

89.0

93.0

97.7

108.0

49

Waist Circumference

83.8±9.2

55.2–128.3

71.0

78.0

82.0

89.0

101.0

50

Hip Circumference

97.2±6.5

69.0–126.5

88.0

93.0

96.5

100.8

109.7

51

Vertical Trunk Circumference

171.9±9.3

147.0–230.0

157.0

166.0

171.5

177.5

188.0

52

Armpit Circumference

64.5±5.3

21.6–63.0

38.4

43.0

46.6

50.0

55.5

53

Upper Arm Circumference Relaxed

29.6±3.2

20.5–49.0

25.0

27.5

29.0

31.0

36.0

54

Biceps Circumference Relaxed

32.5±3.2

21.0–44.5

28.0

30.2

32.0

34.4

38.3

55

Forearm Circumference Relaxed

28.2±3.1

20.6–41.5

24.0

26.0

27.9

30.0

34.3

56

Wrist Circumference

17.5±1.5

14.0–28.5

15.8

16.8

17.5

18.0

19.4

57

Hand Circumference

21.7±1.6

16.0–38.0

19.5

21.0

21.8

22.6

24.0

58

Crotch Thigh Circumference

55.0±6.8

40.0–99.0

46.0

50.5

54.0

58.3

66.6

59

Lower Thigh Circumference

41.7±4.2

28.5–59.0

36.0

39.0

41.0

44.1

49.1

60

Calf Circumference

36.8±3.1

22.0–48.4

32.0

35.0

37.0

39.0

42.0

61

Ankle Circumference

26.1±2.2

20.0–38.6

23.0

25.0

26.0

27.1

29.5

62

Hand Length

19.2±1.0

14.7–29.9

17.7

17.6

19.3

19.9

20.8

63

Palm Length

11.0±0.8

8.9–18.2

10.0

10.5

11.0

11.4

12.3

64

Hand Breath

8.4±0.6

6.6–10.9

7.5

8.1

8.5

8.8

9.3

65

Wrist Depth

2.8±0.4

2.0–5.7

2.3

2.6

2.8

3.0

3.6

66

Hand Breath Open Thump

10.2±0.8

6.3–15.6

9.0

9.8

10.2

10.6

11.3

67

Ear Top Head Height

11.1±1.1

6.3–18.8

9.3

10.4

11.1

11.9

13.0

68

Head Length

19.1±1.4

12.0–30.8

16.9

18.5

19.2

19.8

20.6

69

Maximum Head Height

22.3±2.1

12.9–37.0

19.6

21.0

22.0

23.7

26.0

70

Head Breadth

15.3±1.1

10.6–27.1

13.6

14.9

15.4

15.8

16.7

71

Head Length Maximum

22.2±1.5

16.2–34.3

20.0

21.5

22.2

23.0

24.2

72

Face Breadth

11.3±1.3

6.8–21.0

9.0

10.7

11.4

12.1

13.3

73

Ear to Ear Length

14.5±1.3

10.2–22.8

13.0

13.8

14.4

15.1

16.5

74

Face Height (Eyes to Haggle)

13.1±1.2

10.0–22.0

11.5

12.5

13.0

13.7

14.8

75

Inter Pupillary Distance

5.5±0.5

2.9–7.6

4.7

5.2

5.6

5.9

6.2

76

Foot Length

25.8±1.7

18.8–39.2

23.6

24.9

25.8

26.7

28.0

77

Instep Length

18.5±2.9

7.3–26.0

10.0

18.3

19.2

20.0

21.3

78

Foot Breadth

9.7±0.8

6.5–13.9

8.4

9.4

9.8

10.2

10.9

79

Heel Breadth

6.3±0.6

4.3–9.8

5.4

6.0

6.4

6.7

7.4

80

Ball of Foot Circumference

26.0±1.8

20.5–38.5

23.5

25.0

26.0

27.0

28.5

81

Instep Circumference

25.6±1.7

21.0–48.0

23.0

24.5

25.5

26.5

28.2

82

Heel-Ankle Circumference

33.5±2.0

20.1–46.4

31.0

32.5

33.8

35.0

36.8

83

Head Height (Eyes to Vertex)

5.7±1.0

3.5–9.2

4.1

5.0

5.7

6.3

7.5

84

Right Ear Height

6.1±0.5

3.0–9.3

5.3

5.8

6.1

6.4

6.9

85

Right Ear Width

3.4±0.4

1.9–8.2

2.9

3.2

3.5

3.7

4.1

86

Nose Width

3.6±0.4

2.2–6.7

3.0

3.4

3.6

3.9

4.3

87

Nose Height

5.6±0.5

3.0–8.6

4.8

5.4

5.7

6.0

6.4

88

Index Finger Length

8.8±1.3

5.8–12.5

6.8

7.5

9.0

10.0

10.9

89

Index Finger Depth

1.9±0.1

1.0–3.8

1.7

1.9

2.0

2.0

2.2

90

Weight (kg)

70.0±9.0

45.0–123.0

57.0

64.0

70.0

76.0

92.0

Discussion

The studied military personnel had a mean±SD stature of 174.1±6.3 cm; the mean±SD sitting height was 89.7±3.8 cm. In comparison with measurements of Henry10 who recorded Iranians' anthropometric data in 1934, the mean height of 20–30-year-old Iranians has increased by 8.6 cm (Table 3). The mean stature of Iranian soldiers was 172.7 cm in the study conducted by Pourtaghi and Salem in 1995;13 this reflects a 1.4 cm increase in the stature over the past 15 years.

Table 3: Comparison of various parameters measured in Iranian soldiers in various studies. Figures represent mean±SD in cm.

Study

Year

Stature

Sitting Height

Weight

Present study

2010

174.1±6.3

89.7±3.8

70.0±9.0

Pourtaghi and Salem

1995

172.7±5.9

89.2±3.6

67.0±9.3

Noorani and Hendrix

1970

166.6±7.4

87.7±3.3

61.3±7.4

Henry Field

1934

165.5±66.3

84.0±3.5

In a study on Iranian male students, their stature was found to be 174.2 cm,21 that was similar to our findings. The mean stature found by Habibi, et al,22 was 174.9 cm—0.7 cm more than what we found. However, because they studied only the Isfahani male students (in central Iran), their findings could not be generalized to all Iranian students. Osquei-Zadeh reported a stature of 166.9 cm for students;23 this value was different from that found by Mirmohammadi and Habibi, most likely because the data for males and females were combined.

Body dimensions of Iranian soldiers were generally 2–4 cm lesser than those of the Western countries and 3–4 cm more than those of East Asian nations (Tables 3 and 4).

Table 4: Comparison of Iranian soldiers stature, sitting height, and elbow height with some other populations. All measurements belong to the past 15 years. Also, the leg (lower limb) length was calculated by the researcher through estimating the sitting height from stature.

Stature

Sitting Height

Upper Limb/Stature

Lower Limb/Stature

US Army

175.6

91.4

0.521

0.479

Australian Army

178.5

93.2

0.522

0.478

UK Army

177.4

90.5

0.510

0.490

Iranian Army

174.1

89.7

0.515

0.475

Chinese Males

167.8

90.8

0.541

0.459

Japanese Males

169.0

90.9

0.538

0.462

Taiwanese Males

169.9

90.7

0.534

0.465

Korean Males

170.7

92.1

0.540

0.460

To determine the difference in sitting and elbow height among Eastern and Western countries, the sitting height to stature ratio and elbow height or leg length to stature ratio were compared (Table 4); the elbow height to stature is 48% in the US, Australia, and the UK (Table 4), while it is 46% in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan,24 that reflects the elbow height to stature ratio is lower in Eastern countries compared to the Western nations; this means that European people's legs have grown more than their body—in other words, the higher height of Europeans compared to the Eastern people is attributed to their legs rather than their body.

In the current study, the mean weight was 70.0 kg, the mean body mass index (BMI) was 23.3 kg/m2—11.5% of participants had a BMI >25 kg/m2. The mean BMI in the study conducted by Nourani, et al, in 1970 was 22 kg/m2; it was 22.4 kg/m2 in Pourtaghi's study13—9% had a BMI >25 kg/m2. All these reflect the increasing trend of BMI over years. The prevalence of overweight people is less than that reported in the US army, which was 13%.5

Now that we have the anthropometric dimensions of Iranian military personnel, we can design ergonomic military tools and equipment for them, however, since the dimensions are constantly changing, we need to conduct national anthropometric examinations every ten years. Given the increasing trend of BMI in the studied participants, it is also suggested to establish weight control and body fit programs for the Iranian defense personnel.

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their gratitude to Colonel Khoshroo, who has cooperated in performing anthropometry in Iranian classic army and Colonel Sajedi who has cooperated in performing anthropometry in Iranian Revolutionary Army (Sepah).

Conflicts of Interest: None declared.

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TAKE-HOME MESSAGE

  • Most of the injuries and damages which occurred during military trainings happened to those who suffered from inappropriate body dimensions.
  • Most of the armies produce their military clothes, weapons, and equipment according to soldiers' body dimensions and ergonomic principles.
  • Body dimensions of Iranian soldiers were generally 24 cm lesser than those of the Western countries and 34 cm more than those of East Asian nations.
  • There is an increasing trend in BMI of Iranian military personnel over the past 15 years.
  • We need to study the temporal changes made in the physical dimensions and military force ability over years.

Cite this article as: Pourtaghi G, Valipour F, Sadeghialavi H, Lahmi MA. Anthropometric characteristics of Iranian military personnel and their changes over recent years. Int J Occup Environ Med 2014;5:-124.




 pISSN: 2008-6520
 eISSN: 2008-6814

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