For routine clinical use, anthropometric measurements (circumference measures and skinfold thickness) have been preferred due to ease of measurement and low cost. Waist circumference and the waist-hip ratio measurements are commonly used surrogates of fat distribution, especially in epidemiology studies. Waist circumference is highly correlated with visceral fat and was recently included as a clinical risk factor in the definition of the metabolic syndrome. Specifically, waist circumferences greater than 102 cm (40 in) in men and greater than 88 cm (35 in) in women are suggestive of elevated risk.

Skinfold thicknesses which estimate the thickness of the subcutaneous fat layer are highly correlated with percent body fat. Since the subcutaneous fat layer varies in thickness throughout the body, a combination of site measures is recommended, reflecting upper and lower body distribution. Predictive percent body fat equations based on skinfold measures are age and sex specific in adults and children.

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