Validity of skinfold estimates of percent fat in high school female gymnasts

HOUSH, TERRY J.; JOHNSON, GLEN O.; HOUSH, DONA J.; ECKERSON, JOAN M.; STOUT, JEFFREY R.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: October 1996 - Volume 28 - Issue 10 - pp 1331-1335
Special Communications: Methods

A preseason estimation of body composition may be useful for assigning a safe minimal body weight for female gymnasts. The present investigation examined the validity of 11 skinfold equations for predicting percent body fat(%fat) in high school female gymnasts ([horizontal bar over]X age ± SD= 15.7 ± 1.2 yr) by comparing the values with those obtained from underwater weighing. Seventy-three gymnasts ([horizontal bar over]X%fat± SD = 18.6 ± 4.5%fat) volunteered to serve as subjects. The statistical analyses included examination of the constant error (CE), standard error of estimate (SEE), correlation coefficient (r), and total error (TE). The results of this investigation indicated that 7 of the 11 equations resulted in TE values that were ≤3.9%fat (range, 3.3-3.9%fat). Of these, the quadratic sum-of-three skinfold equation of Thorland et al.(37) satisfies the most cross-validation criteria and, therefore, is recommended for estimating body composition and minimal body weight in high school female gymnasts. The other six equations with TE values of ≤3.9%fat should be considered acceptable alternatives.

Center for Youth Fitness and Sports Research, School of Health and Human Performance, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0229

Submitted for publication May 1995.

Accepted for publication February 1996.

Address for correspondence: Terry J. Housh, MABL 143, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588-0229.

©1996The American College of Sports Medicine