AccuMeasure Skinfold Calipers -- Body Fat Measurements

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AccuMeasure Skinfold Calipers -- Body Fat Measurements
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The Joy of Knowing Your Body Fat Percentage
by Dusty R. Green, M.Ed., Research Scientist & Author of
Smart Eats, Smart Supplements, and Smart Exercise

Height/Weight Charts? Skinfold Calipers? Bathroom Scales?
You can be considered "desirable" according to the height/weight charts but be over fat. You can be considered heavy for your size, according to the same charts, yet carry only 5 percent body fat. These charts have been found to be inaccurate in more than 40 percent of all cases.

The most accurate way to keep track of your fat (50 percent or more is the layer of fat found just beneath the skin) is with a combination of skinfold calipers and a good set of scales (not cheap bathroom scales).  The technique of underwater weighing is as accurate or more than using skin-fold calipers, yet it takes expensive equipment and is very time consuming.  I recommend using AccuMeasure because of accuracy, ease of use, consistency, and self administration.

Using scales as your only tool for body weight measurements poses a couple of problems:

#1 - You may be losing fat while gaining muscle at the same time causing you to show weight gain, the same weight, or weight lost.

#2 - Water weighs about 8 pounds per gallon.  Many people (of the heavier variety) can experience this much weight fluctuation in a day.  That weight will show up on the scales and may either excite you (if you are dehydrated), or depress you (if you are well-hydrated).  Losing water weight does not necessarily equate to losing body fat.  Skinfold measurements combined with weighing yourself is the preferred method.

I've measured thousands of peoples body fat over the past couple of decades and still use the same measuring device.  The following will give you an idea of why I prefer AccuMeasure skinfold calipers.

Aren’t Electrical Body Fat Testers More Accurate?
The following is re-printed by permission from Matt Chalek

The December 1998 issue of the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, "Validity of Self-Assessment Techniques for Estimating Percent Fat in Men and Women," key findings included the following:

Self-testing of percent body fat with the AccuMeasure was as accurate as results from multi-site measurements and calculations taken by an experienced clinical investigator using a Lange caliper.  [Lange is the expensive hand-held metal device we used in college under controlled clinical settings].  Percent body fat calculations with the AccuMeasure were within 1.1 percentage points of underwater weighing results, the gold standard of body fat measurement.  AccuMeasure was recommended over another self-assessment device, the Futrex-1000, which significantly overestimated percent body fat.

The researchers also mentioned in the Journal:  "A salient feature of the AccuMeasure is that it is an inexpensive self-assessment technique that requires little skill to administer, therefore offering an attractive alternative for individuals who wish to determine their body composition without the inconvenience, expense, and lack of privacy of conventional body fat testing at clinics or recreational facilities."

The Body Logic Fat Analyzer from Omron and the Body Fat Monitor / Scale from Tanita send a low-voltage current through the body.  Devices such as these measure how much body tissues impede the flow of electrical current.  They DO NOT measure actual body fat content.  In a study sponsored by the National Institute of Health (NIH), scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that impedance measurements made by six different commercial instruments varied by as much as 40% from the actual impedance of known standards.  According to the New York Times, "an impedance result for someone will not accurately predict body-fat content unless it is compared with the results of people who are similar in various ways like age, weight, sex, height and athleticism and who have also been tested with some more accurate measuring tool."  Other factors affect impedance such as body positioning during testing, hydration status, recent consumption of food and beverages, ambient air and skin temperatures, and recent physical activity.  The New York Times found results varied on a tester from 16 to 27% body fat -- too inconsistent for a person serious about body fat management.

Isn’t the Body Mass Index a Better Measurement Indicator for Body Fat?
Body Mass Index, or BMI, is simply a correlation between a person’s height and weight.  BMI does not measure body fat.  Just like any bathroom scale, BMI cannot distinguish between people who are heavy with fat and those who are heavy with muscle.  Since muscle weighs more than fat (per any given cubic measurement), BMI could give you erroneous results.  You could start a fitness program, trim inches off your waist, add a few pounds of muscle, and your BMI would actually go up.  This is grounds for many people quitting a healthy exercise program.

What are some of the health risks with having too much body fat?
Excess body fat is associated with increased chances for heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, stroke, and some cancs.  Emotional health and well being are also unfortunately often at risk due to societal pressures on being thin.

Body Fat Measure Directions

Order:  AccuMeasure Skinfold Calipers

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