A unified formula for calculating body surface area of humans and animals


We previously derived a formula for calculating human body surface area (BSA) from V (body volume) and L (reference body length): BSA=(9πVL)0.5. In this paper, we analyse first the effects of body density variation on BSA during growth and the scaling relation of BSA to body mass. Then we utilise the derived formula to calculate BSA of animals and compare the obtained data with the direct measurements on the same animals, including rat, chicken, dog, and cattle, from the literature. It is shown that two problems remain to be solved for applying the derived formula to all mammals and other animals: one is to find out the L for each species of animal by means of direct measurements, and the other is to obtain the variation of body density during growth.

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The authors are indebted to Professor Thurston C. Lacalli for his valuable suggestion and comment on axial-patterning and geometrical constraint, to Professor Valery Kokshenev for our effective discussion about human body geometrical constraint, to Dr. Shaozhi Zhang from the University of York for his valuable and critical comment after reading our preliminary manuscript, and also to Professor Prampero and other two anonymous referees from this journal for their important suggestions for revision.

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Correspondence to Jianfeng Wang.

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Wang, J., Hihara, E. A unified formula for calculating body surface area of humans and animals. Eur J Appl Physiol 92, 13–17 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-004-1074-9

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  • Body surface area formula
  • Body mass
  • Body density
  • Reference body length
  • Geometrical constraint