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The Wolfram|Alpha Team

Off the Charts: Human Body Measurements

June 17, 2009 —
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In recent blog entries we have been highlighting ways Wolfram|Alpha can compute complex data to be helpful in our everyday lives. Yesterday, we discussed how Wolfram|Alpha can help us track all the good (and not so good) nutrients we put in our bodies. Some indications of how well we may, or may not, be doing in that area are measurements of the human body. Wolfram|Alpha has some easy and fun tools to create general or personalized reports for adults and kids alike. As a reminder, all Wolfram|Alpha medical results are based on statistical data, and are not medical advice.

For adults, Wolfram|Alpha can compute body statistics such as your body mass index (BMI), body surface area, and body measurements based on factors such as age, height, weight, and gender.  The results of these computations can give you an understanding of the number of calories your body needs daily; recommended body weight based on your gender, age, and height; typical organ properties such as lung capacity; and more.

Example of results based on various body statistics such as height and weight

Example of results based on various body statistics such as height and weight

Another Wolfram|Alpha tool that will have parents and caregivers returning time and again is childrens’ growth charts. Growth charts are tools United States health care providers began using in 1977 to track the physical development of children.  The Wolfram|Alpha growth charts compute data such as a child’s height/length, weight, age, and gender into colorful and easy-to-read charts demonstrating percentiles of their current growth and future projections of adult height and weight. The data is based on standards established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and does not account for individual differences.

Example of a growth chart for a male, 5yr, 3'7'', 45lb

Example of a growth chart for a five-year-old boy, 3'7'', 45 lbs

Our team of developers who specialize in medical data are always looking to the next useful tool for Wolfram|Alpha users. Currently, they are working on a similar growth-chart tool, one that will allow expecting parents to compute growth projections based on ultrasound measurements. Stay tuned!


Think about interpreting 1m70 as 1.7m…
To give better ideal weight and body fat percentage, you should also input body shape (wide or not). If two persons of the same sex, weight and height have very different shoulder breadth, they have different body fat percentages and ideal weight. Defining breadth as under average, average or over average is enough to get more precise answers, but it’s also possible to use waist, hips and neck measurements…

Posted by Nicolas June 18, 2009 at 1:11 am

I know it may sound very picky, but I’ve noticed nobody offers a service that takes into account the ‘race’ of the person (if race can be defined!) or the country of residence. Thus, a 5.5″ male would be above average in latin america, and somewhat small in northern europe.
Just a thought.

Posted by Armando June 18, 2009 at 1:32 am

    As migration has increased very fast lately I doubt if there any reliable statistics seperating race. In addition races have become very mixed lately.

    Posted by Brian Gilbert June 18, 2009 at 10:03 am

    I agree with Armando. Surely there is a huge difference between, for example, people from Vietnam and people from Germany.

    Posted by ImaginaryUnit June 18, 2009 at 10:37 am

Races… Maybe stats by country would be better. Countries is a “rest of the world” concept.

Posted by Nicolas June 19, 2009 at 2:05 am

Oh and besides, if you use the concept of “races”, it will be limited to USA because the rest of the world doesn’t do stats by race. Forget about the German “race”, last time they tried the concept it didn’t go well.
And you use “race” stats (whatever it means in a world where hundreds of millions and soon billions are of mixed races), you will feel the need to ridicule yourself using the term “Caucasian” which, for people who can vaguely tell where Caucasus is on a world map (that thing were USA is outrageously small), means rather dark-skinned (and usually womanizers): Abkhazians, Ossetians, Karachai, Kabardians, Chechens, Georgians (no, that’s not people in the south of the USA) and many others…

Posted by Nicolas June 19, 2009 at 3:00 am

Seems to have difficult with patient weights greater than 330lbs

Posted by Scott June 19, 2009 at 3:46 pm

    Thank you for the note, Scott. We have forwarded this to the appropriate team to be looked into further.

    Posted by The PR Team June 19, 2009 at 4:22 pm

      Is that suppose to be a comment on your companies part about people of that size. Perhaps you would prefer they didn’t exist? Glad I am not that size, would hate to be discriminated against by a computational engine.

      Posted by Jeremiah Sherrill June 20, 2009 at 8:40 pm

        I’m sure that if you were that size, being discriminated against by a computational engine would be the least of your worries :).

        Posted by Graeme July 26, 2009 at 4:55 am

I am disappointed W/A chose not to post my request about disabilities and the human body. The more I can understand my disabled body the more I can come to terms with it, both the good and the bad. And it would help other folks gain a better understanding about my world on a day to day basis. Yes, covering disabilities is not easy, and can be problematic, but its important. As a historical fact, a number of key scientific folks were disabled and managed to contribute greatly. I would think they would love W/A allowing them to do work better and faster then fighting with their bodies doing the grunt work of research. So repost and help me understand better myself, thank you.

Posted by Andrew Meit June 20, 2009 at 5:42 pm

Thank you, now go for it. Looking forward to discovering and exploring more. I will be checking on disabilities factual content from time to time. Btw, curate data from all the various disabilities orgs and centers. Start with Hellen Keller Center in NY. They would love to share their knowledge!

Posted by Andrew Meit June 22, 2009 at 10:52 am

mybe it is really useful

Posted by leadmachinery June 24, 2009 at 1:21 am

charming post. simply one decimal where I bicker with it. I am emailing you in detail.

Posted by Consolidation August 25, 2009 at 2:47 am

Thank you, really useful.

Posted by Human Body September 22, 2009 at 5:20 am