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Body composition measurements provide individuals with an estimate of fat-free mass relative to fat mass in the body.  Several methods are currently being used by practitioners today:  Skin Fold Techniques, Bioelectrical Impedance, Body Mass Index, Near-Infrared, Hydrostatic Weighing, Dual Energy X-Ray and Circumference Measurements.  For convenience and practically, skin folds, bio-impedance, body mass index and circumference measurements are the most commonly used methods employed in the health and fitness industry today.

Skin Fold Techniques measure the thickness of subcutaneous fat on various sites of the body.  The measurements obtained are converted into an equation to predict percent body fat and lean mass.  Skin-fold techniques are quick, noninvasive and inexpensive, but the accuracy and reliability of using this method can vary based on the technician’s skill, type of caliper being used and precision in measurement.

Bio-Impedance (BIA) is a noninvasive, easy and fast way to estimate body composition.  Individuals simply stand on a BIA device, or hold a BIA device that passes a low dose, single frequency current through the body.  BIA measures the body water’s resistance to that electrical current.  An individual with a greater percentage of body fat will have a greater resistance (slower flow) of current than a person with less body fat.  Lean tissue, muscle, has a greater percentage of water and can conduct an electrical current faster than fat.

Body Mass Index is a number based on a person’s height and weight.  BMI is noninvasive, quick and easy, but the standard error of estimate exceeds 5%.  To avoid confusion, BMI does not offer a % of fat.  It is a calculated number correlated to being “overweight” or “underweight”.

Circumferences measure distances (inches or centimeters) around certain parts of the body:  Arms, Legs, Chest, Waist, Hips, Buttocks, and Neck.  Like skin folds, circumference values can be used in equations to predict percent fat or whole body density.  This method is a great way for practitioners monitor site-specific reduction, but is not as accurate as Skin Folds or Bio-Impedance.

Iverson Fitness and Wellness Consulting uses a comparative approach to body composition analysis by incorporating several of the most common methods listed above.  Our bio-impedance analysis retains excellent reliability and accuracy, followed by circumference measurements for site-specific comparison.

New % fat health standards for men and women.

Low

Mid

Upper

Obese

Young Male

8%

13%

22%

> 22%

Middle Age Male

10%

18%

25%

>25%

Older Male

10%

16%

23%

>23%

Young Female

20%

28%

35%

>35%

Middle Age Female

 25%

 32%

 38%

 >38%

Older Female

25%

30%

35%

>35%