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A new way of assessing malnutrition by measuring arm span could help target money and food supplies to the developing world’s ageing population.

Poor nutrition is normally assessed using body mass index (BMI): weight in kilograms divided by (height in metres)2. But ageing makes the spine compress and curve so that height can no longer be measured accurately.

However, in Ethiopia, arm span could be used instead, say Suraiya Ismail and colleagues from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. They found a clear correlation between arm span and height in Ethiopian populations that can be used to work out BMI.

Source: Nature Science Update

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