Body fat

Lesson 2 : Assessment of Nutritional Status- Nutritional anthropometry

Body fat

The adipose tissue is distributed over a large number of sites in the body. Subcutaneous fat constitutes the body’s main store of energy reserves. The thickness of fat at various sites of the body has been found to be correlated with measures of body fat.
Assessment of human subcutaneous fat can be carried out by various methods. But only physical anthropometry using skin fold calipers is practicable in field circumstances.

The skin fold thickness may be taken on different trunk sites (sub-scapular, supra-liac, abdominal etc) or extremities (triceps, thigh, mid calf). The skin fold at triceps is more reliable than that at sub-scapular in the assessment of obesity.

Male body fat

Equipment and Technique

Fat fold at triceps:
The measurement should be made on the dorsal side at the same mid-point, where mid upper arm circumference is measured. The skin fold is picked up between the thumb and the fore finger about one centimeter above the midpoint taking care not to include the underlying muscle.
The tips of the skin fold caliper should be applied at the mid-point at a depth equal to the skin fold. The skin fold should be held gently in the left-hand throughout the measurement. Average of two measurements should be taken. Fat fold at triceps is the least error prone.

Fat fold at sub-scapula:
The fat fold is measured just below and lateral to the angle of the left scapula by picking it up with the thumb and fore finger in line running approximately 45º to the spine in the natural line of skin cleavage.
The calipers used should have standard contact surface (pinch area) of 20-40 mm and an accuracy of o.7mm. It should exert a constant pressure of 10g/cm2 throughout the whole range of the skin fold thickness at all distances of separation of the jaws of the caliper.

Some of the standard calipers used are Harpenden longe and Best una caliper.

Index Previous
Last modified: Tuesday, 29 November 2011, 10:33 AM