Lower Leg Length as an Index of Stature in Adults

International Journal of Obesity and Relatated Metabolic Disorders. 1996 Jan; 20(1):21-7.
Han, T. S., & Lean, M. E.


Objective: To derive regression equations using lower leg length (knee height) or arm span to predict height, and equations using ratios of weight/lower leg length or weight/arm span to predict body mass index and % body fat.

Subjects: Determination sample of 78 men and 82 women aged 17-70 years, and validation sample of 53 men and 121 women aged 18-82 years.

Measurements: Height, weight, lower leg length measured from the top of the patella with knee flexed at 90 degrees, arm span, % body fat by densitometry, and age.

Results: Lower leg length gave good prediction of height (men: r2 = 79%, SEE = 3.2 cm; women: r2 = 73%, SEE = 3.4 cm). Weight/lower leg length ratio was highly predictive of body mass index (men: r2 = 95%, SEE = 1.1 kg/m2, women: r2 = 94%, SEE = 1.1 kg/m2), and gave an estimation comparable to that of body mass index for predicting % body fat (men: r200 = 68%, SEE = 5.0% of body weight; women: r2 = 72%, SEE = 4.6% of body weight). Applying these equations based on lower leg length and weight/lower leg length ratio to a separate sample of men and women showed 95% of the errors of height estimate were within 6.5 cm, and of body mass index estimate were within 2 kg/m2. The same analysis of arm span showed the errors of body composition prediction were unacceptably high.

Conclusion: Lower leg length is useful for estimating body composition when height measurement is not available.

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DGEM German Society for Nutritional Medicine (German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin)
GESKES  Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (German Gesellschaft für klinische Ernährung der Schweiz) 
ESPEN European Society of Clinicl Nutrition and Metabolism