Why measure skinfold?
- Skinfolds are a method to determine the subcutaneous fat layer thickness; a pinch of skin is precisely measured by calipers at several standardized sites.
- The most reliable skinfold site for reflecting changes in adiposity, including abdominal visceral adiposity, is the subscapular site.
- See explanation about interpreting skinfold measurements.
- Use only professional or clinical calipers. (e.g., Lange or Harpenden calipers)
- Do not use plastic calipers or those with built-in body fat percent conversion microprocessors.
- Make sure the measurement is taken directly on skin not through clothing.
- Pick up and hold skinfold with thumb and forefinger of one hand.
- Apply the jaws of the caliper to the skinfold about 1/2 inch from the fingers holding the fold. Do not release the fingers holding the fold.
- The caliper should only be used to measure the thickness of the fold not hold the fold in place.
- Do not place pressure on the caliper as this results in incorrect higher reading.
- Measure the subscapular or the triceps; an alternate site is the suprailiac when the other sites cannot be successfully used.
- Trained individuals can take one measurement at each site for reasonable accuracy: using the average two or three measurements increase accuracy.
- Less skilled individuals should measure two or three times at each site and use the average.