2007 Volume 213 Issue 1 Pages 51-61
Measurement of subcutaneous fat thickness with a skinfold caliper is a simple and inexpensive technique for assessment of body composition, but is influenced by the skin site or the obesity level. The resulting measurement errors may influence the prediction accuracy of body density. We therefore aimed to clarify the characteristics of measurement errors with a skinfold caliper and to determine useful measurement sites for the prediction of body density in Japanese adults of wide-ranging age and obesity levels. The present study included 126 Japanese male and 77 female subjects ranging from 21 to 81 years old. They were divided into a “non-obese group” and an “obese group”, based on the Japanese criteria of obesity (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2). Subcutaneous fat thickness was measured at 14 sites with a skinfold caliper and ultrasound. Percent body fat was measured by dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and body density was calculated using Brozek's formula. Sex and obesity level differences in the measurement error of skinfolds (ultrasound minus skinfold caliper measurements) were examined by 2 × 2 ANOVA (sex and obesity groups) for each site. The relationship between body density and the systematic error was examined. We developed an accurate prediction equation for body density with smaller measurement and systematic errors. Although measurement errors in skinfold thickness tended to increase with increasing obesity levels, the influence was smaller for the abdominal and suprailiac skinfolds compared with other sites. Measurement of suprailiac or abdominal skinfold thickness is useful to accurately estimate body density in Japanese adults.