A skinfold caliper is used to assess the skinfold thickness, so that a prediction of the total amount of body fat can be made. This method is based on the hypothesis that the body fat is equally distributed over the body and that the thickness of the skinfold is a measure for subcutaneous fat.
The triceps skinfoldThe triceps skinfold is necessary for calculating the upper arm muscle circumference. Its thickness gives information about the fat reserves of the body, whereas the calculated muscle mass gives information about the protein reserves. A.R. Frisancho (1981) published tables showing percentiles for the thickness of the triceps skinfold. Below P15, the patient is malnourished. It's better to repeat the measurements for a good indication of changes in nutritional status and body fat mass. For information about calculating the upper arm area, upper arm circumference, upper arm fat area, upper arm muscle area, go to the page on 'Anthropometry'. More information on skinfold measurements can be found in this document.
The sum of four skinfoldsTo estimate the total amount of body fat, four skinfolds are measured:
- Biceps skinfold (front side middle upperarm)
- Triceps skinfold (back side middle upperarm)
- Subscapular skinfold (under the lowest point of the shoulder blade)
- Suprailiac skinfold (above the upper bone of the hip)