Reference Values for Body Composition and Anthropometric Measurements in Athletes



Despite the importance of body composition in athletes, reference sex- and sport-specific body composition data are lacking. We aim to develop reference values for body composition and anthropometric measurements in athletes.


Body weight and height were measured in 898 athletes (264 female, 634 male), anthropometric variables were assessed in 798 athletes (240 female and 558 male), and in 481 athletes (142 female and 339 male) with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). A total of 21 different sports were represented. Reference percentiles (5th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 95th) were calculated for each measured value, stratified by sex and sport. Because sample sizes within a sport were often very low for some outcomes, the percentiles were estimated using a parametric, empirical Bayesian framework that allowed sharing information across sports.


We derived sex- and sport-specific reference percentiles for the following DXA outcomes: total (whole body scan) and regional (subtotal, trunk, and appendicular) bone mineral content, bone mineral density, absolute and percentage fat mass, fat-free mass, and lean soft tissue. Additionally, we derived reference percentiles for height-normalized indexes by dividing fat mass, fat-free mass, and appendicular lean soft tissue by height squared. We also derived sex- and sport-specific reference percentiles for the following anthropometry outcomes: weight, height, body mass index, sum of skinfold thicknesses (7 skinfolds, appendicular skinfolds, trunk skinfolds, arm skinfolds, and leg skinfolds), circumferences (hip, arm, midthigh, calf, and abdominal circumferences), and muscle circumferences (arm, thigh, and calf muscle circumferences).


These reference percentiles will be a helpful tool for sports professionals, in both clinical and field settings, for body composition assessment in athletes.


Autor / Fonte:Diana A. Santos, John A. Dawson, Catarina N. Matias, Paulo M. Rocha, Cláudia S. Minderico, David B. Allison, Luís B. Sardinha, Analiza M. Silva. Published: May 15, 2014DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0097846