University of Hertfordshire

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Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)7-25
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Journal publication date27 Jan 2016
Early online date25 Nov 2014
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2016


Evaluation of body composition is an important part of assessing nutritional status and provides prognostically useful data and opportunity to monitor the effects of nutrition-related disease progression and nutritional intervention. The aim of this narrative review is to critically evaluate body composition methodology in adults, focusing on anthropometric variables. The variables considered include height, weight, body mass index and alternative indices, trunk measurements (waist and hip circumferences and sagittal abdominal diameter) and limb measurements (mid-upper arm and calf circumferences) and skinfold thickness. The importance of adhering to a defined measurement protocol, checking measurement error and the need to interpret measurements using appropriate population-specific cut-off values to identify health risks were identified. Selecting the optimum method of assessing body composition using anthropometry depends on the purpose, i.e. evaluating obesity or undernutrition, and requires practitioners to have a good understanding of both practical and theoretical limitations and to wisely interpret the results.


This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of the following article: A. M. Madden, and S. Smith, ‘Body composition and morphological assessment of nutritional status in adults: a review of anthropometric variables’, Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 29 (1): 7-25, February 2016, DOI: . This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

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