British Journal of Nutrition

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Clinical and Human Nutrition

Body fat assessed from total body density and its estimation from skinfold thickness: measurements on 481 men and women aged from 16 to 72 Years

J. V. G. A. Durnina1 and J. Womersleya1

a1 Institute of Physiology, The University, Glasgow G12 8QQ


1. Skinfold thicknesses at four sites – biceps, triceps, subscapular and supra-iliac – and total body density (by underwater weighing) were measured on 209 males and 272 females aged from 16 to 72 years. The fat content varied from 5 to 50% of body-weight in the men and from 10 to 61% in the women.

2. When the results were plotted it was found necessary to use the logarithm of skinfold measurements in order to achieve a linear relationship with body density.

3. Linear regression equations were calculated for the estimation of body density, and hence body fat, using single skinfolds and all possible sums of two or more skinfolds. Separate equations for the different age-groupings are given. A table is derived where percentage body fat can be read off corresponding to differing values for the total of the four standard skinfolds. This table is subdivided for sex and for age.

4. The possible reasons for the altered position of the regression lines with sex and age, and the validation of the use of body density measurements, are discussed.

(Received May 16 1973)

(Accepted June 12 1973)