We see it all the time on shows like Bones and CSI. Skeletal remains can yield all sorts of clues—gender, age, past physical traumas. But not the person’s weight. Now, scientists say that skeletons may be able to reveal whether the person had some extra padding.
The scientists evaluated the femurs (or thigh bones) of 121 deceased men for whom they had both weight and height. The group was split into two weight categories based on BMI, body mass index. The researchers found that the femurs of the individuals in the heavier group had significantly wider shafts. The study was published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences. [Gina Agostini and Ann Ross, "The Effect of Weight on the Femur: A Cross-Sectional Analysis"]
The scientists say that previous studies showed that obese individuals actually walk differently than those of average weight. So their bones are dealing with an increase in weight load and a difference in the biomechanics of movement. This brings on a physiological change to withstand the stress. Skeletons will never be able to give us an exact read on someone’s girth, but they may be able to give investigators more evidence…to weigh.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]