Estimating body fat in NCAA Division I female athletes: A five-compartment model validation of laboratory methods

Jordan R. Moon, Joan M. Eckerson, Sarah E. Tobkin, Abbie E. Smith, Christopher M. Lockwood, Ashley A. Walter, Joel T. Cramer, Travis W. Beck, Jeffrey R. Stout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


The purpose of the present study was to determine the validity of various laboratory methods for estimating percent body fat (%fat) in NCAA Division I college female athletes (n = 29; 20 ± 1 year). Body composition was assessed via hydrostatic weighing (HW), air displacement plethysmography (ADP), and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and estimates of %fat derived using 4-compartment (C), 3C, and 2C models were compared to a criterion 5C model that included bone mineral content, body volume (BV), total body water, and soft tissue mineral. The Wang-4C and the Siri-3C models produced nearly identical values compared to the 5C model (r > 0.99, total error (TE) < 0.40%fat). For the remaining laboratory methods, constant error values (CE) ranged from -0.04%fat (HW-Siri) to -3.71%fat (DXA); r values ranged from 0.89 (ADP-Siri, ADP-Brozek) to 0.93 (DXA); standard error of estimate values ranged from 1.78%fat (DXA) to 2.19%fat (ADP-Siri, ADP-Brozek); and TE values ranged from 2.22%fat (HW-Brozek) to 4.90%fat (DXA). The limits of agreement for DXA (-10.10 to 2.68%fat) were the largest with a significant trend of -0.43 (P < 0.05). With the exception of DXA, all of the equations resulted in acceptable TE values (<3.08%fat). However, the results for individual estimates of %fat using the Brozek equation indicated that the 2C models that derived BV from ADP and HW overestimated (5.38, 3.65%) and underestimated (5.19, 4.88%) %fat, respectively. The acceptable TE values for both HW and ADP suggest that these methods are valid for estimating %fat in college female athletes; however, the Wang-4C and Siri-3C models should be used to identify individual estimates of %fat in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)119-130
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Air displacement plethysmography
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
  • Multi-compartment
  • Underwater weighing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)

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