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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 1984


POLLOCK, MICHAEL L. and ANDREW S. JACKSON. Research progress in validation of clinical methods of assessing body composition. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 16, No. 6, pp. 606–613, 1984. Anthropometry is the method of choice for estimating body composition in the clinical setting. The method can be accurate, and requires little time, space, equipment, or financial outlay. Although used extensively in epidemiological research, height/weight indices are not as accurate as skinfold and circumference measures for estimating body composition. The validity of estimating body density is enhanced by using a combination of skin-fold and circumference measures in a multiple-regression model. Some recently developed generalized equations may have a broader application for use in varied populations than several population-specific equations. The newer equations take into account the potential change in ratio of internal to external fat and bone density with age, and the nonlinear relationship between skinfold fat and body density. The validity of using skinfolds for estimating body density can be significantly affected by caliper selection and measurement procedures. Inter-observer errors appear to be the most problematic, with improper skinfold site selection causing the greatest variation among observers. To improve the validity of the anthropometric technique for use in the clinical setting, more precise standards and description of methods need to be developed.

©1984The American College of Sports Medicine