Objective: The relationship between height and arm-span measurement in both sexes and different ethnic groups was studied in order to assess the use of the arm-span measurement as a suitable proxy indicator for height.
Setting: School of Biological and Molecular Sciences, Oxford Brookes University.
Subjects: Five hundred and fifty-three subjects (272 male and 281 female) aged 23.3 years (s.d. 5.5).
Results: Correlation coefficients (r = 0.73-0.89) indicated a clear association between arm-span measurements and height in all groups. However, arm-span was found to be significantly different (P < 0.01) from height in two ethnic groups, the Afro-Caribbean's of both sexes and Asian males. This suggests that arm-span measurements may be an inappropriate proxy for height in certain populations.
Conclusion: The arm-span measurement and height relationship is significantly different in Afro-Caribbean and Asian males. This suggests that any future studies attempting to use arm-span measurement as a proxy for height must consider these ethnic differences.