Masters of Education in Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies Graduate Projects


In special populations, such as ROTC cadets, body composition is used not only as a predictor of fitness, but also for additional purposes such as qualification for enlistment, load carriage, and duty fulfillment (Johnson et al., 2019). There is great concern that the circumference-based equations used to classify cadets may misclassify service members of more muscular builds as being overweight (Grier et al., 2015). The purpose of this study was to compare multiple body composition methods, including the military’s method of circumference-based measurement, in order to identify a suitable method for Bowling Green State University’s Air Force ROTC program. Participants were recruited from the Air Force ROTC Detachment 620 at Bowling Green State University {N = 24; Male, n = 21; Female, n= 3}. Anthropometric (height and weight) and body composition measurements (air displacement plethysmography (ADP), bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), skinfolds, and circumferences) were collected for each participant in the Exercise Physiology Lab at Bowling Green State University. A repeated measure analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare body composition measurement methods. A significant difference between skinfolds and BIA occurred (p=0.025). Using the BMI and circumference compliant/non-compliant scale listed in the AFI guidelines, a greater number of cadets fell into the non-compliant category according to BMI (n=7) versus circumferences (n=1). The findings from this investigation suggest that the circumference-based method can appropriately provide accurate body composition results amongst ROTC cadets. Results also determined that the military’s circumference-based method underestimated body fat compared to the “gold standard” ADP, however these differences were not considered statistically significant. Further research should be conducted to identify body composition 4 methods and/or techniques that are easy to implement and provide accurate body composition outcomes at the individual level.


Jess Kiss

Second Reader

Adam Fullenkamp