A euphemism has come true. According to a new study by forensic scientists, overweight people really are “big-boned.”
The finding will help forensic investigators determine the weight of a long-deceased person a clue to his or her identity by analyzing the size of a skeleton’s bones . The width of the femur, in particular, corresponds to body mass. “This research allows us to determine whether an individual was overweight based solely on the characteristics of a skeleton’s femur, or thigh bone,” said Ann Ross, an anthropologist at North Carolina State who co-led the research, in a press release.
Big bones aren’t the reason people are overweight, though it’s the other way around. The femurs of overweight people grow larger partly because they must bear more weight, the researchers hypothesize, and partly as a result of the way overweight people move and walk, which differs from others on account of their greater mass.
Discounting those minor details, the study, which was published in the March issue of the Journal of Forensic Sciences, will hopefully provide pudgy middle schoolers with a scientifically-backed reply to the taunts of bullies.
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Being big boned means having wider bones. You can figure out if you’re big boned by measuring your wrist.
“I weigh more because I’m big boned.”
Dr. Brenda Banaszynski, a Marshfield Clinic family medicine physician, has disappointing news if you’ve been saying this to explain your weight.
You can be big boned, but larger bone structure doesn’t account for much extra weight, she said
- Big boned means wider bones
- Big bones don’t mean (much) extra weight
- Focus on exercise and portion control for weight loss
- Study Finds That Overweight People Really Are Big-Boned
- Website access code
- Babies have more bones than adults.
- The hands and feet contain over half of the body’s bones.
- Some people have an extra rib that can cause health issues.
- Every bone is connected to another bone — with one exception.
- Ancient Egyptians developed the world’s first functional prosthetic bone.
- Human species have been dealing with bone tumors for 120,000 years.
- Animals with internal, bony skeletons are in the minority.
- Sharks lose thousands of teeth in their lifetimes.
- Bones are not the hardest substances in the body.
- People don’t directly control their bones.
- How large is the variability in human bone thickness, and is “big boned” a real thing or not?
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- Can You Really Have Big Bones? This Chart Will Tell You If Your Body Frame Is Especially Large
- “Honey, you’re just big boned”
- A bit o’ bad news
- About you
- Can You Be ‘Big Boned’?
Big boned means wider bones
Some people have bigger bones, Banaszynski said. For example, their wrists and elbows appear larger and may not be able to wear standard-sized watches and bracelets.
Measure your wrist to find out if you’re really big boned, since “body frame size is determined by a person’s wrist circumference in relation to height,” according to the National Institutes of Health.
People with the following measurements are considered large boned:
- Less than 5 feet 2 inches tall and wrist size larger than 5.75 inches
- 5 feet 2 inches to 5 feet 5 inches tall and wrist size larger than 6.25 inches
- More than 5 feet 5 inches tall and wrist size larger than 6.5 inches
- More than 5 feet 5 inches tall and wrist size larger than 7.5 inches.
Big bones don’t mean (much) extra weight
“Larger bones might account for a few pounds of weight but not 30 or 40,” Banaszynski said. “It’s not going to be the difference between a healthy body mass index (BMI) and being overweight.”
Some people might confuse bone size with bone density, which refers to the concentration of minerals in your bones. Like large bones, dense bones may add only a few pounds to your frame.
Focus on exercise and portion control for weight loss
“If your BMI is in the overweight or obese category, you probably need to make changes to be healthier regardless of the width or density of your bones,” Banaszynski said. “Being overweight or obese increases your risk for diabetes and heart disease.”
So the standard advice applies, big boned or not. Do more cardiovascular exercise, eat a well-balanced diet and pay attention to portion size to shed extra pounds.
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Study Finds That Overweight People Really Are Big-Boned
One of the blind spots in forensic science, particularly in identifying unknown remains, is the inability of experts to determine how much an individual weighed based on his or her skeleton. New research from North Carolina State University moves us closer to solving this problem by giving forensic experts valuable insight into what the shape of the femur can tell us about the weight of an individual.
“This research allows us to determine whether an individual was overweight based solely on the characteristics of a skeleton’s femur, or thigh bone,” says Dr. Ann Ross, an associate professor of anthropology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research. However, Ross notes, this research does not give us the ability to provide an individual’s exact weight based on skeletal remains.
Researchers found that the heavier an individual was, the wider the shaft of that person’s femur.
Researchers found that the heavier an individual was, the wider the shaft of that person’s femur. The researchers hypothesize that the femur of an overweight person is more robust because it bears more weight, but also because overweight individuals move and walk differently to compensate for their greater mass.
The researchers evaluated the femur bones of 121 white men for the study. They used the bones of white men exclusively in order to eliminate any variation that could be attributed to race or gender.
The lead author of the paper, “The Effect of Weight on the Femur: A Cross-Sectional Analysis,” is Gina Agostini, who did the work while a graduate student at NC State. The paper is published in the March issue of the Journal of Forensic Sciences.
NC State’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology is part of the university’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Note to editors: The study abstract follows.
“The Effect of Weight on the Femur: A Cross-Sectional Analysis”
Authors: Gina M. Agostini, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Ann H. Ross, North Carolina State University
Published: March 2011, Journal of Forensic Sciences
Abstract: This study assessed whether obesity significantly affects femoral shape. Femora of 121 white men were divided into two weight classes based on body mass index (BMI) of the deceased. Five external anteroposterior (AP) and mediolateral (ML) measurements were taken at consistent percentages of diaphyseal length. These were then subject to statistical tests. After controlling for age, multivariate statistics show a significant (p < 0.05) effect of BMI on the femur, with the greatest significance in ML measurements. T-tests confirm these dimensions are significantly larger in the overweight (p < 0.05). The effect of BMI on size-transformed and shape-transformed variables was also evaluated, with ANOVA results showing a significant BMI effect on ML size (p < 0.05), but not shape. Significant size-transformed ML variables were then subject to discriminate function analyses with a cross-validation correction. Results show a correct classification rate of 88% in normal weight and 77% in overweight individuals.
The Scientist: Claudette Lajam, M.D., assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at NYU Langone Hospital for Joint Diseases and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
The Answer: In a word, yes, there really is such a thing as being big boned—but it’s not a medical term, and it’s not always used correctly.
First, the facts. Within the range of normal, some people’s bones have a bigger circumference than others’ relative to their respective heights. These people are, indeed, bigger boned. There’s a quick test to determine if you have a small, medium or large frame. All you have to do is measure your wrist. For women between 5’ 2” and 5’ 5”, a circumference of 6.25” to 6.5” is considered medium. Anything below that is small; above that is large. For shorter women, the medium range is 5.5” to 5.57”, and for taller women, it’s 6.25” to 6.5”. (A quick cheat: If you wrap the thumb and middle finger of one hand around the opposite wrist, do they overlap, just touch or not touch at all?)
What big boned means and what people mean by big boned may not be the same thing, however. Think Eric Cartman on South Park saying, “I’m not fat, I’m big boned!” People with larger bones are slightly larger for their heights, yes, but it’s the soft tissue atop and around those bones—muscle and fat—that make some people look more “big boned” than others. Obese patients who need knee or hip replacement surgery can weigh more than 350 pounds and have objectively big legs, but actually have very small bones. Nor is it an issue of bone density, which is a measurement of how much calcium and other minerals are packed into your bones, and has nothing to do with how big they are. But bone density is an important concern for women, who are more prone to osteoporosis and osteopenia, whether they’re big boned or not.
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THE STUDY “Endocrine Regulation of Energy Metabolism by the Skeleton” by Na Kyung Lee et al., published in Cell, August 10, 2007.
THE MOTIVE Nestled about the body, endocrine glands like the thyroid, ovaries, testes, kidneys, and the heart secrete hormones, controlling crucial processes like hunger, blood pressure, and sexual reproduction. Now a team of scientists has shown that even cells in the skeleton—which we commonly think of as mere scaffolding—exude a hormone that helps the body store fat and regulate sugar levels in the blood. The finding not only shatters suppositions about the skeletal system, but it may ultimately yield strategies for treating diabetes.
THE METHODS In 2000, Gerard Karsenty, a molecular geneticist at Columbia University in New York City, discovered that leptin, a hormone made by fat cells, helps mold and repair the skeleton by acting upon bone-building cells called osteoblasts. Because hormone signaling is usually a two-way street, Karsenty thought the skeleton might in turn influence the fat cells. To find out how, he turned to an engineered strain of mice lacking a gene for what was then a mysterious protein called osteocalcin, which is produced by osteoblasts. The mutant mice produced less insulin—the hormone made in the pancreas that helps cells burn sugar—and they were plump and diabetic, with high levels of glucose in their blood. (Osteocalcin’s role appears to involve regulating energy metabolism.)
Karsenty and his team then set about finding what other genes might be involved in this newfound signaling. They engineered other strains of mice, each lacking one of the other genes that are especially active in osteoblasts. The most intriguing mutant type of mice were unusually thin; they generated more active osteocalcin, secreted more insulin, and produced many times more of the insulin-releasing cells in the pancreas. They also created two to three times more adiponectin, a signaling molecule that enhances insulin sensitivity. All these factors protected them from developing diabetes and obesity—just the opposite of the osteocalcin-deficient mice.
In the next experiment, Karsenty looked for evidence of such signaling effects in osteoblasts from normal mice. When he put the osteoblasts on one side of a porous membrane with either insulin-releasing pancreas cells or insulin-sensitizing fat cells on the other side, the pancreas cells made more insulin, and the fat cells made more adiponectin. Osteoblasts taken from the osteocalcin-deficient mice, however, had no impact. This demonstrates, Karsenty says, that the osteoblast component of the skeletal system has a direct role in regulating energy metabolism in ordinary animals.
THE MEANING Why do bones produce a hormone that regulates sugar levels within the body? The answer, Karsenty says, lies deep in our evolutionary past. One of the functions of the skeleton (especially important before the advent of orthopedic surgery) is to repair broken bones. “But requires a lot of energy,” he says, “because you have to very quickly resorb the bone and replace it. For bone remodeling to work, you need to be tightly linked to energy metabolism.”
Karsenty’s findings could lead to new treatments for diabetes. Because osteocalcin levels in untreated patients with diabetes tend to be low, injections of the protein might alleviate the symptoms of diabetes in humans, an approach Karsenty is testing in mice. “The addition of osteocalcin as a metabolic regulator may one day lead to novel therapies, but we need to understand much better how it works and how it fits into physiology before such therapies can be attempted in humans,” says endocrinologist Mitch Lazar, director of the Institute for Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism at the University of Pennsylvania. Still, he says, “the Karsenty paper is first to show that the skeleton is an endocrine organ, which is exciting.”
(Image credit: Philipp Nicolai | )
An adult’s skeletal system consists 206 bones, 32 teeth and a network of other structures that connect the bones together. This system performs a number of vital functions, such as giving the body its form, assisting with bodily movements and producing new blood cells.
Here are 11 surprising facts about the skeletal system.
Babies have more bones than adults.
(Image credit: Sleeping baby photo via )
Adults have 206 bones in their bodies, but the same is not true for infants.
The skeleton of a newborn baby has approximately 300 different components, which are a mixture of bones and cartilage. The cartilage eventually solidifies into bone in a process called ossification — for example, the kneecaps of newborns start off as cartilage and become bone in a few years.
Over time, the “extra” bones in infants fuse to form larger bones, reducing the overall number of bones to 206 by adulthood.
The hands and feet contain over half of the body’s bones.
(Image credit: andesign101 | )
Bones come in all shapes and sizes, and are not evenly distributed throughout the body; some areas have far more bones than others. Coming out on top are your hands and feet.
Each hand has 27 bones, and each foot has 26, which means that together the body’s two hands and two feet have 106 bones. That is, the hands and feet contain more than half of the bones in your entire body.
Some people have an extra rib that can cause health issues.
(Image credit: Image courtesy of Science/AAAS)
Most adults have 24 ribs (12 pairs), but about one in every 500 people has an extra rib, called a cervical rib. This rib, which grows from the base of the neck just above the collarbone, is not always fully formed — it’s sometimes just a thin strand of tissue fibers.
Regardless of its form, the extra rib can cause health issues if it squashes nearby blood vessels or nerves. This results in a condition known as thoracic outlet syndrome, which is marked by pain in the shoulder or neck, loss of limb feeling, blood clots and other problems.
Every bone is connected to another bone — with one exception.
The hyoid is a horseshoe-shaped bone in the throat, situated between the chin and the thyroid cartilage. It’s also the only bone in the human body not connected to another bone.
The hyoid is often considered the anatomical foundation of speech; because of where it’s located, it can work with the larynx (voice box) and tongue to produce the range of human vocalizations. Neanderthals are the only other species to have hyoids like humans, and its presence in those hominids has led scientists to speculate that the Neanderthals had complex speech patterns similar to modern humans.
Ancient Egyptians developed the world’s first functional prosthetic bone.
(Image credit: PNAS, 2013)
Prostheses are artificial devices that take the place of missing or injured body parts. Some prosthetic body parts are merely cosmetic — artificial eyes, for example — but prostheses that replace bones, such as prosthetic limbs or joints, have a functional purpose.
About 3,000 yeas ago, ancient Egyptians developed the first functional prosthesis: an artificial big toe. In 2011, researchers showed that Egyptians with the fake toes would have had a much easier time walking around in sandals than people who were missing their big toes but didn’t get prostheses.
Human species have been dealing with bone tumors for 120,000 years.
(Image credit: X-Ray Photo via )
Bones are made of active, living cells. And like the other cells in your body, the cells of your bones are susceptible to benign tumors and even cancer. But this is nothing new: Modern humans and their relatives have dealt with tumors for thousands of years.
In 2013, scientists found a tumor in a Neanderthal rib bone dating back 120,000 to 130,000 years. It is the oldest human tumor ever discovered.
Animals with internal, bony skeletons are in the minority.
(Image credit: Courtesy of Rob Robbins.)
The bony skeletal system in humans is hidden under layers of skin and muscle. The same is true for other vertebrates, or animals with backbones, including amphibians, birds, reptiles and fish. But vertebrates only account for 2 percent of the animal species on the planet; the other 98 percent are invertebrates, including insects, arachnids and mollusks.
This means that the vast majority of the animal species on the planet lack an internal or external skeleton made of bones. Some invertebrates have exoskeletons made of a fibrous substance called chitin, while others have a fluid-filled skeletal structure, as do jellyfish and worms.
Sharks lose thousands of teeth in their lifetimes.
(Image credit: Cat Schultz, RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program)
Teeth are not counted as bones, but they are considered to be part of the skeletal system. Most people have 52 teeth in a lifetime — 20 “baby” teeth that fall out during childhood and 32 permanent teeth that grow in afterwards.
Sharks, on the other hand, have serrated front teeth and multiple rows of replacement teeth, which steadily move forward as the front teeth fall out. The teeth are sometimes replaced as frequently as once every 8 to 10 days, according to the Marine Education Society of Australasia, an organization that seeks to improve the understanding of marine environments. This high rate of replacement means that some sharks go through about 30,000 teeth in a lifetime.
Bones are not the hardest substances in the body.
(Image credit: MIT)
Bones are strong and rigid, and built to withstand a lot of force — pound for pound, they are stronger than steel. But, surprisingly, they are not the hardest substance in the body.
That title goes to another part of the skeletal system: tooth enamel. This substance protects the crown of teeth and owes its strength to its high concentration of minerals (calcium salts in particular), according to the National Institutes of Health.
People don’t directly control their bones.
(Image credit: BioDigital HumanTM developed by NYU School of Medicine and BioDigital Systems LLC)
One of the staples of Halloween costumes and horror movies is the walking skeleton. Of course, such a creature is pure fiction because it has no brain or nervous system to control its movements. But even if it did have these vital components, the undead monster would still be unable to walk around.
When people move their arms, legs or any other part of their bodies, it’s not because they tell their bones to move — it’s because they tell their muscles, which are attached to their bones, to move.
How large is the variability in human bone thickness, and is “big boned” a real thing or not?
Since the argument with my girlfriend was finished days after this was posted(sadly we were waiting for this but it took so long, we posted this question to have an answer right away) I’ll just post here what I conclude about the “big-boned theory” based on searching through internet.
Let me site this ; that says, “However, the initial findings of this study show that having big bones does not make you fat, being fat gives you big bones”. What the link says, having more fats forced our body to increase the size of our bones for it to endure the stress brought by having heavier weight. Which means big-boned really do exists. (Damn lost the argument with my girlfriend because of this link)
Another that says, “If your scale weight indicates that you’re overweight, it’s most likely because you’re carrying too much body fat. Not because you’ve got ‘big bones'”. This site says that we cannot use the “big-bone theory” to reason out being fat. In the article, The heavier weight was caused mostly by fats and not by bones. Also the article says that tall person having 6’2 height will have of course bigger bones that a person with height of 4’2. Also the article says that “Still others definitely seem to have a larger “frame” as evidenced by a larger circumference of the wrist and ankles. ” (My girlfriend’s face would be so happy to read this)
The last that I would like to post here have chart to know if you’re big-boned or not. The site also agrees that there is big boned
I lost, “Big-boned theory” is real but having heavier weight not mean your big-boned.
P.S. : Also instead of saying “ohh, you’re not fat, you’re just ‘BIG BONED'” to someone just to make their feelings well, you’re not doing it right! Just tell them the truth and tell them to do more exercise and have healthy lifestyle. 🙂
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Think back to last Halloween for a minute. Wherever you looked, there were vampires, ghosts, or bony skeletons grinning back at you. Vampires and ghosts don’t really exist, but skeletons sure do!
Every single person has a skeleton made up of many bones. These bones give your body structure, let you move in many ways, protect your internal organs, and more.
It’s time to look at all your bones — the adult human body has 206 of them!
What Are Bones Made Of?
If you’ve ever seen a real skeleton or fossil in a museum, you might think that all bones are dead. Although bones in museums are dry, hard, or crumbly, the bones in your body are different. The bones that make up your skeleton are all very much alive, growing and changing all the time like other parts of your body.
Almost every bone in your body is made of the same materials:
- The outer surface of bone is called the periosteum (say: pare-ee-OSS-tee-um). It’s a thin, dense membrane that contains nerves and blood vessels that nourish the bone.
- The next layer is made up of compact bone. This part is smooth and very hard. It’s the part you see when you look at a skeleton.
- Within the compact bone are many layers of cancellous (say: KAN-sell-us) bone, which looks a bit like a sponge. Cancellous bone is not quite as hard as compact bone, but it is still very strong.
- In many bones, the cancellous bone protects the innermost part of the bone, the bone marrow (say: MAIR-oh). Bone marrow is sort of like a thick jelly, and its job is to make blood cells.
How Bones Grow
When you were a baby, you had tiny hands, tiny feet, and tiny everything! Slowly, as you grew older, everything became a bit bigger, including your bones.
A baby’s body has about 300 bones at birth. These eventually fuse (grow together) to form the 206 bones that adults have. Some of a baby’s bones are made entirely of a special material called cartilage (say: KAR-tel-ij). Other bones in a baby are partly made of cartilage. This cartilage is soft and flexible. During childhood, as you are growing, the cartilage grows and is slowly replaced by bone, with help from calcium.
By the time you are about 25, this process will be complete. After this happens, there can be no more growth — the bones are as big as they will ever be. All of these bones make up a skeleton that is both very strong and very light.
Your spine is one part of the skeleton that’s easy to check out: Reach around to the center of your back and you’ll feel its bumps under your fingers.
The spine lets you twist and bend, and it holds your body upright. It also protects the spinal cord, a large bundle of nerves that sends information from your brain to the rest of your body. The spine is special because it isn’t made of one or even two bones: It’s made of 33 bones in all! These bones are called vertebrae (say: VER-tuh-bray) and each one is shaped like a ring.
There are different types of vertebrae in the spine and each does a different kind of job:
- The first seven vertebrae at the top are called the cervical (say: SIR-vih-kul) vertebrae. These bones are in the back of your neck, just below your brain, and they support your head and neck. Your head is pretty heavy, so it’s lucky to have help from the cervical vertebrae!
- Below the cervical vertebrae are the thoracic (say: thuh-RAS-ik) vertebrae, and there are 12 in all. These guys anchor your ribs in place. Below the thoracic vertebrae are five lumbar (say: LUM-bar) vertebrae. Beneath the lumbar vertebrae is the sacrum (say: SAY-krum), which is made up of five vertebrae that are fused together to form one single bone.
- Finally, all the way at the bottom of the spine is the coccyx (say: COK-siks), which is one bone made of four fused vertebrae. The bottom sections of the spine are important when it comes to bearing weight and giving you a good center of gravity. So when you pick up a heavy backpack, the lumbar vertebrae, sacrum, and coccyx give you the power. When you dance, skip, and even walk, these parts help keep you balanced.
In between each vertebra (the name for just one of the vertebrae) are small disks made of cartilage. These disks keep the vertebrae from rubbing against one another, and they also act as your spine’s natural shock absorbers. When you jump in the air, or twist while slamming a dunk, the disks give your vertebrae the cushioning they need.
Your heart, lungs, and liver are all very important, and luckily you’ve got ribs to keep them safe. Ribs act like a cage of bones around your chest. It’s easy to feel the bottom of this cage by running your fingers along the sides and front of your body, a few inches below your heart. If you breathe in deeply, you can easily feel your ribs right in the front of your body, too. Some thin kids can even see a few of their ribs right through their skin.
Your ribs come in pairs, and the left and right sides of each pair are exactly the same. Most people have 12 pairs of ribs, but some people are born with one or more extra ribs, and some people might have one pair less.
All 12 pairs of ribs attach in the back to the spine, where they are held in place by the thoracic vertebrae. The first seven pairs of ribs attach in the front to the sternum (say: STUR-num), a strong bone in the center of your chest that holds those ribs in place. The remaining sets of ribs don’t attach to the sternum directly. The next three pairs are held on with cartilage to the ribs above them.
The very last two sets of ribs are called floating ribs because they aren’t connected to the sternum or the ribs above them. But don’t worry, these ribs can’t ever float away. Like the rest of the ribs, they are securely attached to the spine in the back.
Your skull protects the most important part of all, the brain. You can feel your skull by pushing on your head, especially in the back a few inches above your neck. The skull is actually made up of different bones. Some of these bones protect your brain, whereas others make up the structure of your face. If you touch beneath your eyes, you can feel the ridge of the bone that forms the hole where your eye sits.
And although you can’t see it, the smallest bone in your whole body is in your head, too. The stirrup bone behind your eardrum is only .1 to .13 inches (2.5 to 3.3 millimeters) long! Want to know something else? Your lower jawbone is the only bone in your head you can move. It opens and closes to let you talk and chew food.
Your skull is pretty cool, but it’s changed since you were a baby. All babies are born with spaces between the bones in their skulls. This allows the bones to move, close up, and even overlap as the baby goes through the birth canal. As the baby grows, the space between the bones slowly closes up and disappears, and special joints called sutures (say: SOO-churs) connect the bones.
As you sit and type at the keyboard, while you swing on a swing, even when you pick up your lunch, you’re using the bones in your fingers, hand, wrist, and arm.
Each of these bones is wider at the ends and skinnier in the middle, to help give it strength where it meets another bone. At the end of the radius and ulna are eight smaller bones that make up your wrist. Although these bones are small, they can really move! Twist your wrist around or wave and you’ll see how the wrist can move.
The center part of your hand is made up of five separate bones. Each finger on your hand has three bones, except for your thumb, which has two. So between your wrists, hands, and all your fingers, you’ve got a grand total of 54 bones — all ready to help you grasp things, write your name, pick up the phone, or throw a softball!
Sure, your arm, wrist, hand, and finger bones are great for picking up the phone, but how are you supposed to run to answer it? Well, with the bones of the legs and feet!
Your legs are attached to a circular group of bones called your pelvis. The pelvis is a bowl-shaped structure that supports the spine. It is made up of the two large hip bones in front, and behind are the sacrum and the coccyx. The pelvis acts as a tough ring of protection around parts of the digestive system, parts of the urinary system, and parts of the reproductive system.
Your leg bones are very large and strong to help support the weight of your body. The bone that goes from your pelvis to your knee is called the femur (say: FEE-mur), and it’s the longest bone in your body. At the knee, there’s a triangular-shaped bone called the patella (say: puh-TEL-luh), or kneecap, that protects the knee joint. Below the knee are two other leg bones: the tibia (say: TIH-bee-uh) and the fibula (say: FIH-byuh-luh). Just like the three bones in the arm, the three bones in the leg are wider at the ends than in the middle to give them strength.
The ankle is a bit different from the wrist; it is where the lower leg bones connect to a large bone in the foot called the talus (say: TAL-iss). Next to the talus are six other bones. But the main part of the foot is similar to the hand, with five bones. Each toe has three tiny bones, except for your big toe, which has just two. This brings the bone total in both feet and ankles to 52!
Most people don’t use their toes and feet for grabbing stuff or writing, but they do use them for two very important things: standing and walking. Without all the bones of the foot working together, it would be impossible to balance properly. The bones in the feet are arranged so the foot is almost flat and a bit wide, to help you stay upright. So the next time you’re walking, be sure to look down and thank those toes!
The place where two bones meet is called a joint. Some joints move and others don’t.
Fixed joints are fixed in place and don’t move at all. Your skull has some of these joints (called sutures, remember?), which close up the bones of the skull in a young person’s head. One of these joints is called the parieto-temporal (say: par-EYE-ih-toh TEM-puh-rul) suture — it’s the one that runs along the side of the skull.
Moving joints are the ones that let you ride your bike, eat cereal, and play a video game — the ones that allow you to twist, bend, and move different parts of your body. Some moving joints, like the ones in your spine, move only a little. Other joints move a lot. One of the main types of moving joints is called a hinge joint. Your elbows and knees each have hinge joints, which let you bend and then straighten your arms and legs. These joints are like the hinges on a door. Just as most doors can only open one way, you can only bend your arms and legs in one direction. You also have many smaller hinge joints in your fingers and toes.
Another important type of moving joint is the ball and socket joint. You can find these joints at your shoulders and hips. They are made up of the round end of one bone fitting into a small cup-like area of another bone. Ball and socket joints allow for lots of movement in every direction. Make sure you’ve got lots of room, and try swinging your arms all over the place.
Have you ever seen someone put oil on a hinge to make it work easier or stop squeaking? Well, your joints come with their own special fluid called synovial fluid (say: SIH-no-vee-ul) that helps them move freely. Bones are held together at the joints by ligaments (say: LIH-guh-mints), which are like very strong rubber bands.
Taking Care of Bones
Your bones help you out every day so make sure you take care of them. Here are some tips:
Protect those skull bones (and your brain inside!) by wearing a helmet for bike riding and other sports. When you use a skateboard, in-line skates, or a scooter, be sure to add wrist supports and elbow and knee pads. Your bones in these places will thank you if you have a fall!
If you play sports like football, soccer, lacrosse, or ice hockey, always wear all the right equipment. And never play on a trampoline. Many kids end up with broken bones from jumping on them. Broken bones can eventually heal, but it takes a long time and isn’t much fun while you wait.
Strengthen your skeleton by drinking milk and eating other dairy products (like low-fat cheese or frozen yogurt). They all contain calcium, which helps bones harden and become strong.
Be active! Another way to strengthen your bones is through exercise like running, jumping, dancing, and playing sports.
Take these steps to be good to your bones, and they will treat you right!
Reviewed by: KidsHealth Medical Experts
Can You Really Have Big Bones? This Chart Will Tell You If Your Body Frame Is Especially Large
We’ve all heard people refer to themselves or others as “big boned,” usually as an explanation for carrying a little extra weight. Like most cliches, it’s easy to assume this doesn’t exactly have a solid scientific basis, but it turns out you actually can have big bones. The catch is, the size of your skeleton isn’t actually related to your weight.According to a Huffington Post interview with Claudette Lajam, M.D., “big bones” doesn’t actually have a medical term, because it’s not abnormal. When you think about it, this is actually pretty common sense: differently sized people have differently sized skeletons. There goes science, being all logical again. If you’re really tall, it could add a few extra pounds, but beyond that, your weight is mostly made up of your soft tissue (organs, fat, etc. — all the fun squishy stuff). Around 15 percent of the population is large-boned, and as you can probably guess if you’ve taken a statistics class, another 15 percent of people are small-boned. That leaves 70 percent of people solidly in the middle, so chances are pretty high that your skeleton is normal. Even if it turns out you’re a weirdo like me, having a larger or smaller skeleton shouldn’t affect anything beyond your height and body shape. You can close that Web MD tab now.
However, there is an important exception: people with small, thin body frames are more likely to get osteoporosis, the disease that involves losing bone mass as you age. If you’re a woman, you’re already at a higher risk for the disease as well, so make sure you’re getting extra vitamin D and drinking a bunch of milk (or calcium-supplemented milk substitute of your choice). If you’re really worried you could exercise more like the Mayo Clinic suggests, but in that case you’re a much stronger person than me. As always, pun absolutely intended.If you’re interested/worried/straight up bored at work, the National Library of Medicine has a handy chart to help you figure out your skeleton size. Have fun!
Images: Oli Scarff/Getty Images; Giphy; A.D.A.M.
“Honey, you’re just big boned”
It’s one of the more common statements you’re likely to hear if you’re a somewhat tall, maybe slightly heavy-set male or female:
No, you’re absolutely not fat. You’re just big boned!
According to information from the US National Library of Medicine (by the National Institutes for Health), the frame size of the human body does differ between people. As a result, there is such a thing as being “large”, “medium”, or “small” boned. If you’re curious, you can easily figure out your own frame size category. Just grab a measuring tape, and measure your own height, then your wrist circumference.
The frame size is dependent on your height, and the table at the other end of the above link (repeated below), will help you determine whether your essence is housed in a small, medium, or large body-frame.
A bit o’ bad news
With one exception, the size of your bones do not appear to have much to do with what the scale shows. The exception?
Your femur (thigh bone).
The human femur – From Wikipedia
The scientific study “The Effect of Weight on the Femur: A Cross-Sectional Analysis” (by Gina M. Agostini, et all), published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences in March of 2011, found a correlation between obesity and the shape of the human femur.
The study summary in plain english:
If you’re a caucasian male, the weight and density of your thigh bone will, after you’re dead, with a near 80% degree of certainty, indicate whether you were obese or not while alive.
But that’s the only bone in the body they have found to have anything to do with what your BMI, and thus the weight on the scale, is.
So, unfortunately, there’s no relationship between being “big boned” – i.e. your wrist measurement relative to your height – and “being big”.
Have you ever been told you’re “big boned”?
Has it affected you in any way?
Would you be surprised to learn that thinking of yourself as “big boned” could be why you find yourself to struggling with losing weight?
Can You Be ‘Big Boned’?
“I’m not fat, I’m big boned.”
“I am overweight, because of my large bones.”
We might be quite familiar with such comments, but is there any truth to them?
First, take a moment and answer the following question. How many pounds do you think your skeleton weighs? 5 pounds? 10? 20? 40?
The DXA machine helped us to decipher if muscle actually weighs more than fat, and I think will help us answer the ‘big boned’ question.
The DXA estimates how much bone mineral we have in our entire skeleton, which we can convert to pounds.
Take these five, random scans of women I pulled from our lab’s DXA scanner. Their skeletons ranged from 4.9 to 6.2 pounds, which was only about 3 to 3.8% of their total body weight.
But are these women just outliers? Actually, no, they appear to be quite average, as compared to this large study of U.S. adults.1
These graphs are the bone mineral content for White, Black, and Mexican American women from 20 to 85 years of age. Each blue dot represents a person who was measured.
Their estimated skeleton weight averaged from about 3 to 4 pounds. In men, the average skeleton weight was about 5.5 to 6.5 pounds – with the heaviest skeletons being only about 11 pounds.
Personally, the largest skeleton I have scanned was a 350 pound professional football player, who had a 13 pound skeleton – still a mere 3.7% of his body weight.
In conclusion, this one is busted. We are not ‘big boned’, as the weight of our skeletons do not make a substantial contribution to our overall body weight.
X-Ray Image: From Keith Martin documentary. http://www.channel5.com/show/70-stone-almost-dead.