Doctoral Dissertations

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Lyle Konigsberg

Committee Members

Richard Jantz, Walter Klippel, Mohamed Mahfouz, R. Kent Hutson


The established methods for estimating average body mass from the skeleton are of two types: biomechanical and morphometric. Neither technique currently addresses the extremes of body mass (e.g. emaciation or obesity). The goal of this research is to explore several different biomechanical methods, using data collected from high resolution computed tomographic scans and macroscopic analysis of 150 known modern individuals from the William M. Bass Donated Skeleton Collection at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. This research will review the biomechanics of human gait and the biomechanical accommodations that occur with increased obesity and load bearing. The analysis will include cross-sectional geometry of the human femur at five locations along the diaphysis, bone mineral density scans of the proximal femur and a macroscopic evaluation of degenerative changes of the articulations of the spine, hip, knee and foot. The best single indicator of body mass for both males and females is the cross-sectional area of the proximal femur and BMD. By using pathologies combined, an accuracy rate of 87% for predicting obesity was achieved using a classification tree with sexes pooled. Furthermore, severe obesity has such a profound effect on the human skeleton as to leave a suite of traits affecting the load bearing elements of the lower limb and vertebral column.

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