The relationship between arm-span measurement and height with special reference to gender and ethnicity

Eur J Clin Nutr. 1996 Jun;50(6):398-400.


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.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arm / anatomy & histology*
  • Asian People
  • Black People
  • Body Height*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Racial Groups*
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • White People