Body Surface Area or BSA is a common measure in the medical field and part of the complete body size and composition profile (though not used commonly in fitness assessment). Various BSA formulas have been developed over the years, originally by Dr.s Du Bois & Du Bois, followed by Gehan and George, Haycock, Boyd and Mosteller.
The formula shown below give slightly different results - the formula by Mosteller is the simplest and can be memorized and easily calculated with a hand-held calculator, and therefore is the most used and is recommended.
purpose: body surface area is used in the medical field when calculating drug doses, though is relevant to sports when looking at responses to the heat and cold.
equipment required: scales for measuring weight, stadiometer for measuring height, calculator for working out the formula.
procedure: determine height and weight using standard procedures. Use the relevant formula (whether you used kg/cm or lbs/in). A calculator is available to convert cm and inches and convert kg and lbs.
formula: This is the formula by Mosteller (1987):
if using cm and kilograms:
BSA (m²) = ( [Height(cm) x Weight(kg) ]/ 3600 )^½
e.g. BSA = SQRT( (cm*kg)/3600 )
if using inches and pounds:
BSA (m²) = ( [Height(in) x Weight(lbs) ]/ 3131 )^½
- Mosteller RD: Simplified Calculation of Body Surface Area. N Engl J Med 1987 Oct 22;317(17):1098 (letter)
- DuBois D; DuBois EF: A formula to estimate the approximate surface area if height and weight be known. Arch Int Med 1916 17:863-71.
- Haycock G.B., Schwartz G.J.,Wisotsky D.H. Geometric method for measuring body surface area: A height weight formula validated in infants, children and adults. The Journal of Pediatrics 1978 93:1:62-66
- Gehan EA, George SL, Estimation of human body surface area from height and weight. Cancer Chemother Rep 1970 54:225-35.