Nigerian Journal of Paediatrics

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Triceps skin fold thickness as a measure of body fat in Nigerian adolescents

MM Ahmad, H Ahmed, KI Airede


Background: Skin fold thickness (SFT) at selected areas offers a simple method of subcutaneous fat assessment and provides a good estimate of obesity and body fat distribution. The triceps SFT has been shown to be one of the best and most popular sites for SFT measurement in children.
Objective: To assess the body fat of school adolescents and to compare
the performance of triceps SFT with Bioelectrical impedance method in the detection of overweight (OW) and obesity (OB) among the subjects
Methods: The study was cross sectional; involving secondary school
students within Sokoto metropolis. Subjects were selected by a multistage
random sampling method. Harpenden skin fold caliper (ASSIST Creative Resources Ltd, LL13 9UG, UK) and Tanita Body fat scale (model UM-030, Tanita, UK Ltd; 2004) were used respectively to measure the triceps SFT
and body fat content (%) according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Results: The mean triceps SFT values were 8.9mm (±4.7) for males
and 12.9mm (±4.6) for the females (p<0.001). Mean % BF values were
8.2 ± 4.1% for the males, and 20.0 ± 6.8% for the females (p<0.001).
The triceps SFT gave a prevalence of overweight of 2.5%, while that of obesity was 0.8%. With the BIA method, 2.5% of the subjects were
classified as overweight and 1.7% as obese.
Conclusion: Triceps SFT remain a fair surrogate for the assessment of
adiposity, the component of overweight that leads to pathology.

Key words: Skin fold thickness, bioelectrical impedance analysis, body fat, obesity, adolescents

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