The assessment of body composition in competitive athletes can allow for more accurate exercise and nutrition guidelines to enhance performance. Due to the varying financial resources and time constraints related to Division II collegiate athletics, examining low-cost, time efficient, and non-invasive measurement techniques can be beneficial to implement in this population.
PURPOSE: To compare and contrast the accuracy and effectiveness of low-cost body composition estimation methods, in Division II collegiate athletes and associated subpopulations.
METHODS: Fifty-nine (n = 59) intercollegiate athletes (n = 45 male, 14 female) were assessed for percentage body fat using bio-electrical impedance analysis (BIA) and seven site skinfold (SF) methods. Pearson’s correlation was used to determine the relationship of body fat between methods. A gender x measurement method Two-Way ANOVA with repeated measures on the latter was utilized to determine potential differences in body fat as assessed by each method between males and females. Furthermore, a separate body fat category x measurement method Two-Way ANOVA with repeated measures on the latter for each gender was used to determine differences in measuring body fat of lean athletes versus those with greater body fat levels between BIA and SF assessment.
RESULTS: BIA and SF methods showed excellent agreement (r = 0.88, p < 0.001) in estimating body fat. A significant difference in body fat measured by BIA (p = 0.007, 16.17 % ± 5.92 %) and SF (14.75 % ± 6.51 %) was found for the entire population. A significant interaction between body fat category and assessment method was found (p = 0.03) in males. Further paired samples t-testing showed a significantly greater body fat estimation by BIA (p < 0.001, 12.03 % ± 2.75 %) in comparison to skinfold (9.92 % ± 2.55 %) in lean males. No significant gender x measurement method interaction or body fat category x measurement method interaction in females was found.
CONCLUSION: Although low-cost methods of estimating body composition in Division II collegiate athletes are easily accessible, the accuracy of these methods remains questionable. This was especially true of lean male athletes in the current sample. Further research comparing these methods to a gold standard in this population is warranted.