Background & aims: Although maximal voluntary handgrip strength (HGS) is considered a reliable tool in nutritional assessment there are few reference data available. This paper presents reference values for handgrip strength of healthy adults (age > or = 20 years) from a household survey.
Methods: Data were obtained from a representative sample of adults (1122 males and 1928 females) living in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. HGS was measured three times with a Jamar mechanical dynamometer in both hands and the highest value used in the analysis. The percentile distribution of HGS was calculated according to sex and age categories.
Results: Mean values of right and left HGS were 42.8 and 40.9 kg for males, and 25.3 and 24.0 kg for females, respectively. HGS increased with age and significantly decreased after 40 and 50 year-olds for women and men, respectively. Body mass index (BMI) was associated with HGS in both sexes but only underweight male subjects had significantly lower HGS values.
Conclusions: The highest HGS values are observed at the 4th decade of life with significant declines thereafter. HGS is significantly associated with BMI. The reference values of HGS may be useful in assessing the nutritional status of similar adult urban population.