Skinfold measurements The Pinch an inch test

When you're choosing a method for body fat testing, you need a method that's practical, easy to perform and provides consistency over repeated measurements: Enter skinfold testing.

Skinfold testing is based on the fact that you store most of your body fat directly beneath your skin. These types of fat deposits are called "subcutaneous fat." The remainder of your body's fat is located around organs (internal fat) and inside muscle tissue (intramuscular fat).

By measuring the amount of subcutaneous fat you have by "pinching" folds of skin & fat at several locations, you can get a very accurate estimate of your overall fat percentage. A skilled tester can produce a body fat measurement with accuracy very close to underwater weighing, the "gold standard" of body composition testing. Most importantly, skinfold testing is extremely practical.

The skinfold test is performed with a simple, vice-like instrument called a skinfold caliper. The jaws of the caliper pinch a fold of skin and fat and measure the thickness of the fat fold in millimeters. There are many different brands of calipers on the market. The Lange, Harpenden, computerized Skyndex, and the Slimguide calipers are among the most common and accurate ones, although the cost of the first three can be high, ranging anywhere from $150.00 to $450.00. If someone else will be testing you, I recommend the Slimguide calipers because they're one of the few inexpensive (plastic) models that give fairly accurate readings. These and a wide variety of other calipers can be ordered from Creative Health Products at 1-800-742-4478 or

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