Are skinfold measurements suitable to compare body fat between children with spastic cerebral palsy and healthy controls?

R.J. Van den Berg-Emons*, M.A. van Baak, K.R. Westerterp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Department of Movement Sciences, University of Limburg, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

The aim of this study was to assess whether percentage of body fat (BF) can be predicted adequately from skinfold measurements in comparative studies of children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP) and healthy control children. The deuterium dilution technique (D2O) was used as a reference method. In contrast with what was expected, %BF predicted from skinfold measurements was considerably lower than that determined by the D2O method in children with CP, whereas in the controls this was not seen. A proportionally large internal fat deposit and a different distribution of subcutaneous fat in children with CP may be responsible for this. It was concluded that skinfold measurements are not suitable for predicting %BF in comparative studies of children with CP and control children. For evaluation of diet- or exercise-related interventions in children with CP, the use of skinfold measurements seems to be justified. However, it may be more appropriate to use skinfold thicknesses without converting them to BF.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)335-339
Number of pages5
JournalDevelopmental Medicine and Child Neurology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998

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