Previous PageTable of ContentsNext Page


by M. Cresta

1. From the morphological viewpoint, the reference man is a conventional individual to whom are attributed certain characteristics common to broad groups of individuals belonging to populations living in extensive geographical areas.

2. In view of this conventional character, the characteristics attributed to this individual do not necessarily imply an optimum physical state; consequently, they cannot be taken as ideal terms of reference for the morphological conditions of different populations.

3. In this note we shall consider the height and weight of man and woman, at the adult stage and during growth.

4. The height measures for the major human groupings as defined in the classical treatises on anthropology usually refer to observations on populations living in rural environments. A glance at their geographical distribution shows that:

  1. Moderately small height (153 to 164 cm) is observed primarily among the populations of South-east Asia and Latin America (with the exception of Argentina and Uruguay) and in marginal population groups of north Asia and central Africa;
  2. Moderately large stature (164 to 173 cm) is found among the populations of Europe, the Middle East, north Asia, North America and Africa (excluding the pygmoid groups of central Africa).

5. Information on weight and especially on weight in relation to height (relative weight) is scanty. However, it is noticed that among population groups of small height those of Latin America have a high relative weight. Likewise, among population groups of great height there are some with low relative weights (Africans) and others with high relative weights (European and North American populations).

6. Table 1 presents some recent data on the height and weight of adults in the chief human groups: Caucasians, Negroids, Mongoloids and Americanoids. It is found that the height of Caucasians and Negroids is between 164/65 and 170/76 cm on average, while that of South Mongoloids and South Americanoids varies between 157/58 and 163/64 cm.

Table 1

Weight and Height of some Populations belonging
to the most widespread racial groupings

Group Men Women    
Weight kgHeight cmWeight/Height Weight kgHeight cmWeight/Height Weight S/F/
Weight S/M
Height F/
Height M
Great Britain63,3174,00,36456,7162,20,3500,9620,932
C.A.R. (Sudan)55,1165,60,33349,6154,00,3220,9670,930
C.A.R. (Congo)56,2164,20,34251,6156,80,3290,9620,955

7. The height of the adult woman is between 93 and 95 percent of that of man irrespective of the racial group. When weight is expressed as a ponderal index in relation to height (weight in kg/height in cm), the characteristics of the four racial groups may be summarized as follows:

  1. Large height and great relative weight (Caucasians) for which the values of the ponderal index lie between 0.39 and 0.43;
  2. Small height and great relative weight (Americanoids) for which the values of the ponderal index lie between 0.36 and 0.39;
  3. Great height and small relative weight (Negroids) for which the values of the ponderal index lie between 0.33 and 0.34;
  4. Small height and low relative weight (Mongoloids) for which the values of the ponderal index lie between 0.30 and 0.34.

8. Women display a relative weight which is always smaller than that of men; the ratio of the ponderal index for women compared with that for men is fairly variable from one population to another and is virtually independent of the racial group concerned. It is 0.94 on average.

9. Tables 2, 3 and 4 show the trend of height and weight from one year of age to adulthood for three homogeneous groups of populations of different racial types, namely: Caucasians, Negroids and Mongoloids.

10. For each age class, height is expressed as absolute value (cm) and as percentage of the height of adults from 19 to 20 years belonging to the same population. Weights are expressed as absolute values (kg) and in the form of ponderal indices.

11. Graph 1 shows, better than the tables, that the growth curve relating to adults (relative growth) of the Mongoloid group is fairly similar to that of the Europoids although the height of adults in the two groups is very different (173.5 cm for Europoids, 162.6 cm for Mongoloids). On the other hand, the growth curve for Negroids differs noticeably between 4 and 17 years from that of the two groups above.

12. Graph 2 shows the trend of the ponderal index in relation to age for the three groups. A certain similarity is noticed between the curve for Mongoloids and that for Negroids, as well as a fairly sharp difference between these two groups and the Europoids. The latter are characterized by the fact that at all ages they have a great relative weight.

Table 2 Weight and Height of Different Age Classes of a Group of Italians (Rome)



Men Women
Weight kg Height cm Height % AdultWeight/HeightWeight kgHeight cmHeight % AdultWeight/Height
1 year10,0374,70,4310,1349,3873,00,4580,128
2 years12,584,80,4890,14711,883,00,5200,142
3 years15,093,80,5410,16014,192,10,5770,153
4 years17,6102,60,5910,17216,6101,60,6370,163
5 years20,4110,30,6360,18519,2108,50,6800,177
6 years23,1117,30,6760,19721,9115,40,7240,190
7 years25,9123,20,7100,21026,8121,90,7640,203
8 years28,7128,30,7390,22427,9127,80,8010,218
9 years31,6133,20,7680,23731,2133,10,8340,234
10 years34,5137,90,7950,25035,1138,40,8680,254
11 years37,5142,30,8200,26439,6144,20,9040,275
12 years41,0147,00,8470,27943,7149,00,9340,293
13 years45,9153,40,8840,29947,1152,90,9590,308
14 years51,5160,10,9230,32250,4155,90,9770,323
15 years57,0165,50,9540,34452,5157,80,9890,333
16 years61,4169,20,9750,36353,8158,70,9950,339
17 years64,3171,20,9870,37654,9159,30,9990,345
18 years66,6172,40,9940,38655,9159,51,0000,350
Adults68,0173,51,0000,39257,0159,5 0,357

Table 3 Weight and Height of Different Age Classes for the Inhabitants of Basutoland

Age Men


Weight kg Height cmHeight % Adult Weight/HeightWeight kgHeight cmHeight % AdultWeight/Height
1 year9,0372,40,4350,1248,371,10,4540,117
2 years11,282,60,4950,13610,381,00,5190,127
3 years12,588,10,5300,14212,187,10,5580,139
4 years13,895,80,5750,14413,994,70,6070,147
5 years15,499,30,5970,15515,399,30,6350,154
6 years18,4108,20,6520,17017,8108,70,6960,164
7 years19,5116,10,6970,16819,6115,10,7350,170
8 years21,2119,40,7180,17820,6117,60,7530,175
9 years23,7123,20,7410,19222,3121,70,7780,183
10 years25,4126,50,7580,20124,5126,00,8050,194
11 years26,8130,60,7840,20526,6130,80,8370,203
12 years29,6135,40,8090,21929,1135,90,8690,214
13 years30,6139,20,8350,22033,0141,70,9060,233
14 years38,0148,60,8670,25640,9149,40,9530,274
15 years41,4152,90,9190,27144,8152,40,9780,294
16 years46,9158,50,9490,29648,5154,20,9840,315
17 years49,7159,80,9590,31150,8154,40,9850,329
18 years53,6164,30,9860,32651,8156,2 0,332
19 years57,1166,61,0000,34352,6155,7 0,338
20 years57,3163,1 0,35156,1155,4 0,361

Table 4
Weight and Height of Different Age Classes in Japan (National Survey)

Age Men


Weight kgHeight cmHeight % AdultWeight/HeightWeight kgHeight cmHeight % AdultWeight/Height
1 year9,9177,30,4750,1289,5875,90,5000,126
2 years12,2385,80,5280,14311,5383,90,5530,137
3 years13,9192,60,5690,15013,4091,10,6000,147
4 years15,3698,80,6080,15514,9097,50,6420,153
5 years16,88104,70,6440,16116,46103,70,6830,159
6 years18,58110,00,6770,16917,83109,00,7180,164
7 years20,62115,50,7100,17919,92114,60,7550,174
8 years22,74120,60,7420,18922,06119,70,7890,184
9 years24,58124,80,7680,19724,12124,50,8200,194
10 years26,94129,00,7930,20927,18129,60,8540,210
11 years29,76134,40,8270,22130,70135,90,8950,226
12 years33,06139,50,8580,23735,12140,70,9270,250
13 years36,80144,60,8890,25438,94144,90,9550,269
14 years43,20152,10,9350,28443,32149,10,9820,291
15 years48,64157,80,9700,30845,68150,90,9940,303
16 years51,84160,20,9850,32447,86151,50,9980,316
17 years53,60161,70,9940,33149,50151,2 0,327
18 years54,22162,61,0000,33349,78151,81,0000,328
19 years54,94162,0 0,33949,84151,8 0,328
20 years55,44162,0 0,34249,38151,8 0,325

Source Table 2: Correnti, V. La valutazione dell'accrescimento nei primi quattro anni di vita con il metodo degli auxogrammi. Arch. Jr. di Ped. Vol. XXI, fasc. III, 1961.

Correnti, V., Pastore, G. Nuovi dati auxologioi di soggetti romani (maschi e femmine) e relativi auxogrammi da 4 a 20 anni. Riv. Antrop. 1968, 55, 95.

Table 3: Munoz, J.A., Anderson, M.M. Report on a Nutrition Survey conducted in Basutoland from 1956 to 1960. WHO Reg. Off. for Africa S.455 (62).

Table 4: Susuki, S. Basal Metabolism in the Japanese Population. World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics. Vol. I, pp. 104-124. 1960.

FAO/WHO Ad Hoc Committee of Experts on Energy and Protein: Requirements and Recommended Intakes, 22 March - 2 April 1971, Rome

FAO/WHO Ad Hoc Committee of Experts on Energy and Protein: Requirements and Recommended Intakes, 22 March - 2 April 1971, Rome


13. It is undeniable that differences in morphological typology exist between one racial group and another. This fact should be taken into account in evaluating body mass and growth rate.

14. However, it is difficult to state the extent to which differences in ponderal index are due to the gene structure of the population or depend on the post-natal influence of the environment.

15. In view of the conventional nature of the reference individual proposed, which in no case implies any theoretical considerations as to the nutritional status of the populations, and in order that morphological references relating to a single type of individual may be available, the following data are proposed:

1. Height of the adult reference man, 165 cm

Value obtained by approximate weighting of heights according to their geographical distribution throughout the world, as revealed by anthropological surveys and taking into account the size of the population considered.

2. Weight of the adult reference man, 60 kg

Average obtained from the ponderal index of the four population groups (see Table 1).

3. Height of the reference woman, 155 cm

Value obtained by applying an average factor of 0.94 to the height of the man according to the data in Table 1.

4. Weight of the reference woman, 55 kg

The weight of the reference woman has been derived from the ponderal index for men, taking into account the fact that this index for women is 0.94 with respect to men.

5. Height for the different age classes

On the basis of the height of the adult reference man and woman, average values for the growth of the child with respect to the adult taken from two population groups (Mongoloids and Europoids) have been applied. These data have been considered because this ratio shows close values although the two populations display different anthropological characteristics.

Table 5
Reference Height (in cm) for Different Age Classes

Age HeightAge Height Age Height
1 year74.774.27 years117.2117.813 years146.2148.5
2 years83.883.18 years122.3122.514 years153.3151.7
3 years91.691.19 years126.7128.215 years158.7153.8
4 years98.899.010 years131.0133.516 years161.7154.4
5 years105.6105.611 years135.8139.517 years163.4154.6
6 years111.7111.812 years140.6144.218 years164.5154.6

6. Body weight for the different age classes

The average ponderal index in the different age classes of Mongoloids and Europoids is applied to the height.

Table 6
Reference Weight (in kg) for Different Age Classes

Age Weight AgeWeight Age Weight
1 year9.89.47 years22.722.113 years40.442.8
2 years12.211.68 years25.224.614 years46.446.6
3 years14.213.79 years27.527.415 years51.748.9
4 years15.615.610 years30.031.016 years55.550.5
5 years18.317.711 years32.935.017 years57.751.9
6 years20.419.812 years36.339.118 years59.152.4
            19 years59.352.7

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page