Background: The North West Adelaide Health Study is a representative longitudinal cohort study of people originally aged 18 years and over. The aim of this study was to describe normative data for hand grip strength in a community-based Australian population. Secondary aims were to investigate the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and hand grip strength, and to compare Australian data with international hand grip strength norms.
Methods: The sample was randomly selected and recruited by telephone interview. Overall, 3 206 (81% of those recruited) participants returned to the clinic during the second stage (2004-2006) which specifically focused on the collection of information relating to musculoskeletal conditions.
Results: Following the exclusion of 435 participants who had hand pain and/or arthritis, 1366 men and 1312 women participants provided hand grip strength measurement. The study population was relatively young, with 41.5% under 40 years; and their mean BMI was 28.1 kg/m2 (SD 5.5). Higher hand grip strength was weakly related to higher BMI in adults under the age of 30 and over the age of 70, but inversely related to higher BMI between these ages. Australian norms from this sample had amongst the lowest of the hand grip strength of the internationally published norms, except those from underweight populations.
Conclusions: This population demonstrated higher BMI and lower grip strength in younger participants than much of the international published, population data. A complete exploration of the relationship between BMI and hand grip strength was not fully explored as there were very few participants with BMI in the underweight range. The age and gender grip strength values are lower in younger adults than those reported in international literature.