Estimation of true height: A study in population-specific methods among young South African adults

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Objective To investigate the accuracy of arm-associated height estimation methods in the calculation of true height compared with stretch stature in a sample of young South African adults. Design A cross-sectional descriptive design was employed. Setting Pietermaritzburg, Westville and Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 2015. Subjects Convenience sample (N 900) aged 18-24 years, which included an equal number of participants from both genders (150 per gender) stratified across race (Caucasian, Black African and Indian). Results Continuous variables that were investigated included: (i) stretch stature; (ii) total armspan; (iii) half-armspan; (iv) half-armspan ×2; (v) demi-span; (vi) demi-span gender-specific equation; (vii) WHO equation; and (viii) WHO-adjusted equations; as well as categorization according to gender and race. Statistical analysis was conducted using IBM SPSS Statistics Version 21.0. Significant correlations were identified between gender and height estimation measurements, with males being anatomically larger than females (P<0·001). Significant differences were documented when study participants were stratified according to race and gender (P<0·001). Anatomical similarities were noted between Indians and Black Africans, whereas Caucasians were anatomically different from the other race groups. Arm-associated height estimation methods were able to estimate true height; however, each method was specific to each gender and race group. Conclusions Height can be calculated by using arm-associated measurements. Although universal equations for estimating true height exist, for the enhancement of accuracy, the use of equations that are race-, gender- and population-specific should be considered.




Lahner, C. R., Kassier, S. M., & Veldman, F. J. (2017). Estimation of true height: A study in population-specific methods among young South African adults. Public Health Nutrition, 20(2), 210–219.

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