Ultrasound measurement of subcutaneous adipose tissue thickness accurately predicts total and segmental body fat of young adults

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2012 Jan;38(1):28-34. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2011.10.011. Epub 2011 Nov 21.


This study evaluated the ability of ultrasound measurement of subcutaneous adiposity to accurately determine whole body and segmental body fat in young adults aged 18-29 years. Subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) thickness was measured by ultrasound at five body sites in 135 subjects (83 men, 52 women) and compared with the corresponding segmental fat mass measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Ultrasound measures of SAT thickness were strongly correlated to segmental fat mass and total percentage (%) body fat (r = 0.697-0.907, p < 0.01). Prediction equations generated using quantile regression found SAT thickness at the abdomen and thigh to accurately predict % body fat in men (standard error of the estimate, SEE = 1.9%, 95% limits of agreement (LoA); -3.6% to +3.8%) and SAT thickness at the abdomen and medial calf to accurately predict % body fat in women (SEE = 3.0%, LoA; -6.5% to +5.4%). These data indicate that ultrasound measurement of SAT thickness proportionally reflects segmental fat mass and accurately predicts % body fat in young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adolescent
  • Algorithms*
  • Body Fat Distribution / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Enhancement / methods
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional / methods*
  • Male
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Ultrasonography / methods*
  • Whole Body Imaging / methods*
  • Young Adult