by Jennifer Collins, M.S.
(Albuquerque, NM, USA)

The “skin fold” method measures your body fat percentage by pinching your fat with your fingers then measuring the thickness with a skinfold caliper. There are several formulas which predict body fat using skinfold caliper measurements. Formulas are created to be used with different populations from sedentary individuals to athletes. Formulas use measurements from one site to as many as 12 sites to calculate body fat percentage.

The procedure for estimating body composition by measuring skinfolds with skinfold calipers is as follows:

Take all measurements on the right side of the body.

Identify, measure, and mark the skinfold site.

Grasp the skinfold firmly with the tips of the thumb and index finger of the left hand.
Lift the pinch. Keep the fold elevated while taking the measurement with the skinfold calipers.

Place the jaws of the skinfold caliper perpendicular to the fold, approximately 2 cm below the thumb and index finger and halfway between the crest and the base of the fold.

Release the caliper jaw pressure slowly and record measurement 2 seconds after the pressure is released.

Open the jaws of the caliper to remove it from the site.

Close the jaws slowly to prevent damage or loss of calibration.

A minimum of two measurements should be taken at each site, with at least 15 seconds between measurements to allow the fat to return to its normal thickness. If values vary from each other by more than 10%, take additional measurements.

For more information on skinfold calipers visit:


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Nov 06, 2015
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