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Gazzetta Medica Italiana Archivio per le Scienze Mediche 2011 February;170(1):11-8


language: English

Accuracy of various skinfold equations to predict body fat percentage in college-age female athletes

Esco M. R., Olson M. S., Williford H. N., Lizana S., Schaefer G. R.

Auburn University Montgomery Human Performance Laboratory, Montgomery, AL, USA


Aim. The purpose of this investigation was to validate or cross-validate body fat percentage (BF%) estimated via four different skinfold models to the criterion dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) in a cohort of college-age female athletes. Forty National Association for Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) college female athletes volunteered to participate in this study.
Methods. For each participant, total BF% was obtained via DEXA. In addition, skinfold thicknesses were assessed at the following seven sites: chest, tricep, suprailliac, mid-axillary region, subscapularis, abdomen, and thigh. The criterion DEXA measurement was used to compare the accuracy of four skinfold equations as follows: 7-site skinfold equation, 4-site skinfold equation, 3-site skinfold equation, and a 2-site skinfold equation.
Results. The results indicated significant correlations between each skinfold equation and the DEXA (correlation coefficients ranged from r = 0.79 to 0.87, P < 0.01). However, all four skinfold equations significantly underestimated BF% by 7.7% to 8.6% (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the standard error of estimate ranged from 4.61 to 5.30 and total error ranged from 7.75 to 8.69 for each skinfold model.
Conclusion. Our results suggest that BF% values obtained by DEXA tend to be significantly higher than those predicted by skinfolds. Therefore, caution should be taken when estimating BF% using skinfold techniques in a female athletic population. Comparing DEXA values to skinfold-derived data, and vice versa, could misclassify certain individuals. Future research is warrented to develop accurate skinfold equations for estimating BF% in collegiate female athletes.

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