Introduction
Typically, a simple
and reasonably accurate method of assessing changes in body composition
have included skin fold measurements. The seven point skin fold
method is used by many exercise consultants who seek a relatively
accurate, simple, and inexpensive measurement of body composition.
Clients who engage in exercise or dietary manipulation can receive
immediate feedback so timely modifications can be made to their
program. Dependent upon the expected rate of change in body composition,
clients can be measured every month or so. If the rate of change
is expected to be rapid, as with dieters, body composition can
be sampled more frequently, e.g.. weekly. Caution should be exercised
in interpreting data when tests are performed frequently, since
measurement error, or variability may exceed an actual change
in body composition. In which case, the general trend of the
results can be noted or additional tests can supplement body
composition data, such as a waist circumference measurement or
other girths. When performed as recommended, the whole process
of the measuring body composition with the seven point skin fold
method and calculating the absolute amount of fat and lean body
weight can be time consuming, especially with many clients. In
this study, in effort to save time and reduce test variability,
two other tests that predict body composition were compared with
the seven point skin fold method and are discussed.
The subcutaneous fat comprises of approximately one half the
total fat in the body. By the end of World War I, anthropologists
realized the feasibility of measuring subcutaneous fat. By 1930,
researchers developed an instrument to measure selected sites
on the body with relative accuracy. (Katch and McArdle, 1983)
The thickness of a double layer of skin and the fat beneath
it is measured with the special caliber that exerts a constant
tension on the site. Skinfolds must be taken at precise standard
locations if the results are to be reliable and used for comparative
purposes. (Katch and McArdle, 1983)
Lohman and Roche made recommendations in techniques to derive
skin fold readings based upon a variety of methods used in the
literature throughout the years. Reliability and the validity
of the many sites was reported in predicting body density. (Lohman
and Roche, 1998)
Katch and McArdle express that population specific equations
only accurately predict body fat (BF) for a subject that is similar
to the population that the formula was derived from. According
to Katch and McArdle, the major draw back with the skinfold technique
lies in the extensive expertise one must have in taking readings
accurately and with consistency. Katch and McArdle claim that
with research purposes, the investigators usually has already
performed several thousand skin folds. (Katch and McArdle, 1993)
Body Composition Formulas
Jackson and Pollock describe certain limitations associated
with population specific formulas and linear regression models
in attempting to estimate BF from skin fold measurements. They
noted that with a sample of men of different age, the slopes
of the regression lines were the same, but the intercepts were
significantly different. In addition, the slopes of the regression
lines was not parallel between young adult men and extremely
lean world class runners. Further more, research has shown a
curvilinear relationship exists between skin fold measurements
and body density (BD). Jackson and Pollock proposed that this
nonlinear relationship may be the reason for the differences
in slopes and intercepts. They develops several formulas based
upon a quadratic relation and the function of age. (Jackson and
Pollock, 1978)
The following formula is one of Jackson and Pollock's that
has been used widely in research:
 BD= 1.11200000  0.00043499(X) + 0.00000055(X)(X)  0.00028826
(A)

 X = Sum of chest, axilla, triceps, subscapular, abdomen,
suprailium, and thigh skin folds (mm).
 A = Age in years.
This formula had a correlation of .915 when compared to hydrostatic
weighing to estimate body density. The standard error of estimate
was .008 expressed in body density and a standard error of estimate
of 3.5 when expressed in % BF using the following equation by
Siri (1961):
 % Fat = [(4.95/BD)  4.5] 100
The absolute amount of fat and lean body weight (LBW) can
be calculated using the body weight of the individual.
Behnke and Wilmore have developed several formulas to estimate
BD and LBW based upon anthropometrics they obtained from 133
college age men. The anthropometrics used in the predictive formulas
included skinfolds, diameters, and circumferences. The authors
noted that the correlation coefficients for estimating LBW was
higher that for estimating BD although the standard error of
estimate was higher in estimating lean body weight. It seems,
though, an oversight was made in their comparison of the standard
error of estimates of the two different types of formulas. The
formulas that where used to estimate LBW where expressed in kilograms
where as the formulas used to estimate BD where express as grams
per milliliter. A direct comparison needs to be made to compare
the standard error of estimate for the two different types of
formulas. They did, though, caution the use of these formulas
until further studies could either confirm or refute their validity
since the population used to derive data was of a specific population.
(Behnke and Wilmore, 1969)
The following formula offered by Behnke and Wilmore seems
to offer some savings of time in the way of data collection and
calculation:
 LBW= 10.260 + 0.7927(wt)  0.3676(s)

 wt = Body weight (Kg)
 s = Abdominal skinfold (mm)
This formula had a correlation of .931 when compared with
hydrostatic weighing. The standard error of estimate was 2.977
expressed kilograms. It must be noted though, that misleading
comparisons may be made in comparing the correlation of data
derived from formulas to that of hydrostatic weighing in different
studies. This is because hydrostatic weighing in itself has a
standard error of estimate.
Katch and McArdle recognize that circumferences may be taken
with ease, achieving accuracy with little practice. They recommend
to record measurements in centimeters for added precision. In
addition, an average of two measurements at the same site was
advised. They also noted that pulling the tape to tight would
compress the underlining soft tissue making the measurement inaccurately
smaller. (Katch and McArdle, 1983)
A simple formula using an abdominal circumference is offered
by Behnke and Wilmore:
 LBW= 44.636 + 1.0817(wt)  0.7396(c)

 wt = Body weight (Kg)
 c = Circumferences of Umbilicus Abdomen (cm)
This formula had a correlation of .938 when compared with
hydrostatic weighing. The standard error of estimate was 2.815
expressed in kilograms.
