Comparison of five methods for estimating percent body fat in men



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Texas Tech University


Five methods of measuring percent body fat were assessed in 70 healthy military men (mean age 31.6 years). Included were underwater weighing (UWW); skinfolds (SF), sum of triceps (TSF), subscapula (SSSF) and chest (using the Jackson and Pollock equations); TSF, SSSF and TSF/SSSF (using the Durnin and Wemersley equations); circumferences (CC), neck and abdomen (Department of Navy Method), body mass index (BMI), kg/m and bioelectrical impedance (BI). Additionally, frame size was assessed by elbow breadth (EB), height/wrist circumference ratio (H/W) measurements and by self-estimation. Correlations between UWW and each of the methods were: SF, r=0.87; TSF, r=0.83; SSSF, r=0.79; TSF/SSSF, r=0.85; CC, r=0.85; BMI, r=0.74 and BI, r=0.73. Agreement between EB and H/W in determining frame size was 47%. Incidence of agreement for ER and H/W with self-estimation was 44% and 46%, respectively. It was concluded from the findings that the best predictor of percent body fat was SF, r=0.87. However, the CC method appears mere practical and easier for the unskilled practitioner, r=0.85.