Generalized Equations for Predicting Percent Body Fat from Anthropometric Measures Using a Criterion Five-Compartment Model

Zackary S. Cicone, Brett S. Nickerson, Youn Jeng Choi, Clifton J. Holmes, Bjoern Hornikel, Michael V. Fedewa, Michael R. Esco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Introduction Anthropometric-based equations are used to estimate percent body fat (%BF) when laboratory methods are impractical or not available. However, because these equations are often derived from two-compartment models, they are prone to error because of the assumptions regarding fat-free mass composition. The purpose of this study was to develop a new anthropometric-based equation for the prediction of %BF, using a five-compartment (5C) model as the criterion measure. Methods A sample of healthy adults (52.2% female; age, 18 to 69 yr; body mass index, 15.7 to 49.5 kg·m-2) completed hydrostatic weighing, dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry, and bioimpedance spectroscopy measurements for calculation of 5C %BF (%BF5C), as well as skinfolds and circumferences. %BF5C was regressed on anthropometric measures using hierarchical variable selection in a random sample of subjects (n = 279). The resulting equation was cross-validated in the remaining participants (n = 78). New model performance was also compared with several common anthropometric-based equations. Results The new equation [%BFNew = 6.083 + (0.143 × SSnew) - (12.058 × sex) - (0.150 × age) - (0.233 × body mass index) + (0.256 × waist) + (0.162 × sex × age)] explained a significant proportion of variance in %BF5C (R2 = 0.775, SEE = 4.0%). Predictors included sum of skinfolds (SSnew, midaxillary, triceps, and thigh) and waist circumference. The new equation cross-validated well against %BF5C when compared with other existing equations, producing a large intraclass correlation coefficient (0.90), small mean bias and limits of agreement (0.4% ± 8.6%), and small measures of error (SEE = 2.5%). Conclusions %BFNew improved on previous anthropometric-based equations, providing better overall agreement and less error in %BF estimation. The equation described in this study may provide an accurate estimate of %BF5C in healthy adults when measurement is not practical.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2675-2682
Number of pages8
JournalMedicine and science in sports and exercise
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 by the American College of Sports Medicine.


  • Body Composition
  • Healthy Adults
  • Multicompartment
  • Regression


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