Validity of skinfolds and bioelectrical impedance analysis for predicting percent body fat
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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The purpose of the present study was to determine whether the skinfold and bioelectrical impedance analysis methods for assessing percent body fat were valid measures against a criterion method of hydrostatic weighing. Fourteen healthy subjects participated in the study. All subjects were male, third-year students at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC) with a mean age of 20.9 (+ 1.0) years, mean height of 178.0 (+ 4.1) centimetres and mean weight of 75.9 (+ 7.4) kilograms. It was hypothesised that there would be a significant difference between percent body fat values obtained from skinfolds or bioelectrical impedance analysis and percent body fat values obtained from hydrostatic weighing. Skinfolds, measured at the biceps, triceps, sub-scapular and supra-iliac skinfold sites, were converted to percent body fat using the Durnin and Womersley (1974) equation for males aged 20 to 29 and the Siri (1961) equation. Bioelectrical impedance analysis was also conducted, obtaining percent body fat values. Hydrostatic weighing, with correction for estimated residual volume using 24% of forced vital capacity, was conducted to derive body density values, which were converted into percent body fat values using the Siri (1961) equation. All tests were performed in the human performance laboratory at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff (UWIC). Hydrostatic weighing, skinfolds and bioelectrical impedance analysis produced mean (± s) percent body fat values of 13.7 (±5.7), 15.5 (±2.6), and 12.0 (±2.8). Statistical analysis found significant (P = 0.022) differences for skinfolds and bioelectrical impedance analysis from hydrostatic weighing. Limits of agreement post hoc tests derived that 95% of the skinfold values would lie within –9.2% and 5.6% of the hydrostatic weighing value, whilst 95% of the bioelectrical impedance analysis values would lie within –8.1% and 11.5% of the hydrostatic weighing value. The null hypothesis was rejected for skinfolds and bioelectrical impedance analysis. In conclusion, the present study found that the methods of assessing percent body fat from skinfolds and bioelectrical impedance analysis were invalid against the criterion method of hydrostatic weighing.
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