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Elsevier, Evolution and Human Behavior, 1(24), p. 53-63

DOI: 10.1016/s1090-5138(02)00120-4



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Fluctuating asymmetry and physical health among young adults

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Fluctuating asymmetry (FA), the random deviations from perfect symmetry found in the bilateral structures of bilaterally symmetric organisms, has been inconsistently linked to health. In this study, the association between FA and an array of health measures was detennined for a large (n=965) general population sample of 26-year-old men and women. FA was significantly associated with two health measures: body mass index (BMI), but only for females (more asymmetric = greater BMI), and number of medical conditions (asymmetric subjects were more likely to report they had two or more medical conditions), FA was not associated with waist/hip ratio, systolic blood pressure (BP), blood cholesterol, cardiorespiratory fitness, and periodontal disease. Two suggestions are offered for these results. The first is that, as a consequence of the association between developmental stability and low metabolism [Evol. Hum. Behav. 18 (1997) 15.], stable and unstable groups will differ on some health measures (e.g., BMI), but not those related to body maintenance (e.g., BP). The second is that because of the minimization of environmental stressors in Westernized societies, there is too much homogeneity in asymmetry among the population to detect differences within samples. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.