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What is the origin of the large body stereotype of Samoans?

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Quick Answer

Although not all Samoans have large, muscular body types, the geographical isolation of this Polynesian group has given rise to a greater level of genetic uniformity, or homogeneity, than is to be found among mixed populations, such as Europeans. Some native Samoans also attribute their muscular. or mesomorphic, body type to a diet high in sources of protein, such as fish, poultry, corned beef, bananas and taro root.

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Full Answer

The stereotypical Samoan body type has been described by Bill Parcells, former head coach for the New York Giants, as ideally suited to football, owing to its "big and boxy" build. While Parcells was referencing a stereotype, there are nevertheless identifiable genetic traits peculiar to certain geographically or culturally isolated groups, and these will often be useful for sports. Sumo wrestlers of Japan, for instance, are aided by a natural genetic tendency toward longer torsos and shorter legs than the average human.

It is often thought that large body types are culturally idealized in Samoa, which has a problem with obesity. However, research has shown the contrary to be true — that Samoans hold a slim body type to be ideal, even while they do not consider obesity to be inherently negative.

Obesity may be linked to the same genetic factors that give rise to a muscular build.

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