Primary objectives: The only reference centile curves currently available for body proportions of children in the UK were constructed more than 20 years ago by Tanner and Whitehouse. The current study was designed to produce up-to-date sitting height and subischial leg length centile curves for boys and girls in Southeast England.
Research design and methods: A convenience sample of 1424 boys and 1208 girls aged under 25 years from Southeast England was measured by a single observer in 1995-1996. Using Cole's LMS method, centile curves were constructed for sitting height and subischial leg length, and the medians by age and sex were then scaled to sum to the corresponding median height of the British 1990 reference.
Results: The new centile curves for boys and girls are presented. They differ significantly from those of Tanner and Whitehouse in leg length (boys p < 0.001; girls p < 0.01), but not in sitting height.
Conclusions: The Tanner and Whitehouse reference curves for body segment length are not suitable for contemporary British children, whose legs are longer than they were a generation ago. It is proposed that the curves presented here be adopted provisionally as the new British reference.