The Relationship Between Arm-Span Measurement and Height with Special Reference to Gender and Ethnicity

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1996 Jun; 50(6):398-400.
Reeves, S. L., Varakamin, C., & Henry, C. J.


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.

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List of abbreviations

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