School of Human Movement, Sport, and Leisure Studies Faculty Publications

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This study compared body composition measurements in lean female athletes. The primary objective was to compare the accuracy of percent body fat (%BF) determined by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA), air-displacement plethysmography (ADP), and underwater weighing (UWW) in female Division I cheerleaders (n = 10 bases, 6 back-spots, and 12 flyers) from two universities. The secondary objective was to compare health risk predicted by %BF to body mass index (BMI) categorizations. UWW was considered the gold standard for assessing %BF. Pearson correlation coefficients were used to determine associations between methods. Repeated measures analysis of variance was used to identify differences in %BF by method. BIA, ADP, and UWW were highly correlated (r ≥ .828, p < .001 for all). However, %BF by BIA (20.0 ± 5.2%) and ADP (19.3 ± 6.0%) was higher than %BF by UWW (15.9 ± 4.1%, p < .001). Health risk was predicted less often when classified based on very lean (risky low) %BF levels by BIA and ADP than UWW (7.1%, 3.6%, and 21.4%, respectively). This finding suggests that, similar to female track-and-field athletes who also exhibit lean muscular physiques, %BF is overestimated by BIA and ADP in female cheerleaders and health risk associated with low %BF is underestimated when compared to UWW. In contrast, BMI was not associated with %BF by any method and no participants were classified as underweight by this measure. Thus, BMI should not be used to predict health risk in lean female athletes, such as collegiate cheerleaders.

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Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 International License.

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International Journal of Exercise Science





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