How Much Does the Human Skeleton Weigh?

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.10 - 2024 12:57 PM CET

How much does the skeleton weigh?

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"You're not fat, you just have big bones," is a humorous excuse we sometimes hear.

But it begs the question: How much does the human skeleton actually weigh?

The skeleton, made up of bones and cartilage, serves critical functions—supporting the body, protecting organs, forming blood cells, and storing minerals. An adult typically has 206 bones, but the weight of the skeleton varies based on body weight, height, gender, and bone density.

Typically, the skeleton accounts for 10-20% of an individual's total body weight.

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) states that the average weight for adult male skeletons is 10.5 kg, and for females, it's 7.8 kg.

The ICRP focuses on these measurements particularly because they help estimate the concentration of radioactive substances in the body, as these substances tend to accumulate in the bones.

Estimating Skeleton Weight

Analyzing anatomical data from 69 people aged between 33 and 95 years, with heights ranging from 155 to 188 centimeters and skeleton weights between 6.5 kg and 13.4 kg, researchers found a significant correlation between a person's height and their skeleton's weight.

This led to the development of a formula for estimating skeletal weight based on height.

For a rough estimate:

Skeleton weight (kg) = (Height (cm)×0.093)−6.5Skeleton weight (kg) = (Height (cm)×0.093)−6.5

For a more precise calculation that factors in age and body weight:

Skeleton weight (kg) = −0.25+(0.046×Height (cm))+(0.036×Body weight (kg))−(0.012×Age (years))Skeleton weight (kg) = −0.25+(0.046×Height (cm))+(0.036×Body weight (kg))−(0.012×Age (years))

These formulas illustrate that the skeleton, typically making up 10-20% of a person's body weight, plays a substantial role in our body's framework, averaging 10.5 kg for men and 7.8 kg for women.

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