Objective: Although the need for accurate anthropometric measurement has been repeatedly stressed, reports on growth and physical measurements in human populations rarely include estimates of measurement error. We describe the standardization process and reliability of anthropometric measurements carried out in a pilot study.
Methods: For the intraobserver assessment of anthropometric measurements, we studied 101 adolescents (58 boys and 43 girls) from five cities. For interobserver assessment, we studied 10 adolescents from the same class in Zaragoza and different from those in the intraobserver sample.
Results: For skinfold thickness, intraobserver technical errors of measurement (TEMs) in general were smaller than 1 mm; for circumferences, TEMs in general were smaller than 1 cm. Intraobserver reliability for skinfold thickness was greater than 95% for almost all cases; for circumferences, intraobserver reliability generally was greater than 95%. Interobserver TEMs ranged from 1 to 2 mm for the six skinfold thicknesses measured; for circumferences, TEMs were smaller than 1 cm for the arm, biceps, and waist and between 1 and 2 cm for the hip and thigh. Interobserver reliabilities for skinfold thickness and circumference were always greater than 90%, except for biceps skinfold.
Conclusions: Our results are in agreement with those recommended in the literature. Therefore, these anthropometric measures seem to be adequate to assess body composition in a multicenter survey in adolescents.