Skinfold assessment: Accuracy and application

Stephen Ball, Pamela Swan, Thomas S. Altena

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    4 Scopus citations


    Although not perfect, skinfolds (SK), or the measurement of fat under the skin, remains the most popular and practical method available to assess body composition on a large scale (Kuczmarski, Flegal, Campbell, & Johnson, 1994). Even for practitioners who have been using SK for years and are highly proficient at locating the correct anatomical sites and pinching the skin, the question remains-how accurate are the results? Creation of new SK equations using Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DXA) technology as the criterion have improved the estimation accuracy achieved by SK. Practitioners are asked to recognize that the equations currently recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine underestimate body fatness by about 3% in both men and women. New equations, developed using DXA as the criterion, are prompting fitness and health professionals to reinterpret the meaning of the percentage of body fat standards for their clients. In summary, the accuracy of various SK assessments are reviewed and various principles of application are presented for the practitioner.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)255-264
    Number of pages10
    JournalMeasurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2006


    • Anthropometry
    • Body composition
    • Body fat percentage
    • DXA
    • Hydrostatic weighing
    • Obesity

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
    • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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