Measurement of skinfold thickness

The most widely used technique for estimating body fat reserves is measurement of the thickness of subcutaneous adipose tissue, using standardized calipers that exert a moderate pressure (10 g/mm2 over an area of 20—40 mm2) and hence cause some temporary discomfort. For greatest precision, the mean of the skinfold thickness at four sites should be calculated:

1 over the triceps, at the mid-point of the upper arm;

2 over the biceps, at the front of the upper arm, directly above the cubital fossa, at the same level as the triceps site;

3 subscapular, just below and laterally to the angle of the shoulder blade, with the shoulder and arm relaxed;

4 suprailiac, on the mid-axillary line immediately superior to the iliac crest.

The approximate desirable ranges of mean skinfold thickness are: men 3—10 mm; women 10—22 mm.

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