One of the best measures of health available is nutritional status. It is important, then, to have an adequate measuring rod with which to judge the state of nutrition.
A number of observers1 have pointed out the inadequacy of the old height-weight-age tables, which are based on averages and consequently fail to recognize individual differences. It is now believed necessary to recognize the range and distribution around the average of measurements of height and of width for a given age in order to judge nutrition. The first width-weight tables2 were compiled after taking body build into consideration, and they record seven different weights for each height, according to the relative width of each subject. The width-length index (the figure for the biiliac diameter divided by that for the standing height and multiplied by 1,000) is a numerical expression of the relative width or body build of a subject.
PRYOR HB. WIDTH-WEIGHT TABLES (REVISED). Am J Dis Child. 1941;61(2):300-304. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1941.02000080090011