Skinfold measures can provide information about an individual's body composition. One of the most commonly used skinfold measurements is triceps skinfold. Along with mid-upper arm circumference, this measurement can used to estimate arm fat and arm muscle area. Subscapular skinfold measurements are also useful for estimating fat stores.
The measurements should be taken with an accurate, calibrated skinfold caliper and a flexible, nonstretchable tape measure. Accurate measurement requires training and regular practice and validation.
Reference data exist for children over 1 year of age, but it should be noted that the children in the data set did not have special health care needs. Differences in bone size and fat and muscle distribution make the use of the reference data inappropriate for many children. Skinfold measurements are best used for monitoring changes over time.
References for skinfold measurement and interpretation
Nardella M, et al. Nutrition Interventions for Children with Special Health Care Needs. Washington State Department of Health. 2001.
Gurney JM, Jelliffe DB. Arm anthropometry in nutritional assessment: a nomogram for rapid calculation of muscle circumference and cross-sectional muscle and fat areas. Am J Clin Nutr. 1973; 26:912-915.
Tanner JM, Whitehouse RH. Revised standards for triceps and subscapular
skinfolds in British children. Arch Dis Child 1975; 50:142-145.