Validity of “generalized” equations for body composition analysis in male athletes

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W.E. SINNING, D.G. DOLNY, K.D. LITTLE, L.N. CUNNINGHAM, A. RACANIELLO, S.F. SICONOLFI, and J.L. SHOLES. Validity of “generalized” equations for body composition analysis in male athletes. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp. 124–130, 1985. Equations by Durnin and Womersley [(D-W), Br. J. Nutr 32:77, 1974], Jackson and Pollock [(J-P), Br. J. Nutr. 40:497, 1978], and Lohman [(L), Human Biol, 53:181, 1981] for estimating body density (BD) purportedly overcome the problem of specificity by accounting for age and/or the curvilinear relationship between skinfolds (SF) and BD. Their equations were validated on 265 male athletes against percent fat measured by underwater weighing [(UWW); mean ± SD = 9.2 ± 4.4%]. Equations by Sloan [(S), J. Appl. Physiol 23:311, 1967], Katch and McArdle [(K-M), Human. Biol. 45:445, 1973], and Forsyth and Sinning [(F-S), Med. Sci. Sports 5:174, 1973] were included as “linear regression models” to compare to the curvilinear models of J-P, D-W, and L. Differences between UWW and estimated mean values ranged from −1.1 to +5.9%; correlations ranged from 0.58 to 0.85; SEE ranged from ±2.41 to ±3.61%; and total error (E) ranged from 2.38 to 6.97%. The seven D-W equations overestimated mean percent fat by from 3.9 to 5.9%. The K-M, S, and L equations overestimated by 1.3, 0.5, and 1.7%, respectively. The F-S equations overestimated by 2.4 to 3.8%. Of the 21 equations evaluated, only 3 by J-P gave estimates not significantly different from UWW percent fat. Regression analyses of the relationship between UWW (y) and estimated (x) percent fat values from those equations were: y = 1.037 x − 0.08 ± 2.38, E = 2.38, r = 0.84; 0.869 x + 1.36 ± 2.45, E = 2.51, r = 0.83; 1.107 x − 1.14 ± 2.51, E = 2.53, r = 0.82. It was concluded that the three J-P equations were most accurate and suitable for body composition screening of male athletes. However, the estimations by the S, K-M, and L equations were within the error of the method.

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