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Keywords:

  • Body composition;
  • Skinfolds;
  • Body density;
  • Fat distribution

Abstract

Subcutaneous adipose tissue thickness (SCATT) has for many years been measured using skinfold calipers, but calipers have several disadvantages, not least that they compress the skinfold. Measuring SCATT using ultrasound was validated by comparing thicknesses at 12 sites with soft-tissue radiographs in 24 adults and with depth gauge measurements on a cadaver. Correlation coefficients ranged from 0.87 to 0.99, and the regression statistics showed no significant difference between ultrasound and the other procedures. The standard errors of estimate of body density from SCATT measured by calipers and ultrasound in 63 young men was ± 7.8 and 7.3 kg·m−3, respectively. Although problems in the identification of the adipose tissue-muscle interface can arise, ultrasound is a viable alternative to skinfold calipers and is to be preferred when measuring uncompressed SCATT.