What Are Anthropometric Measurements?

Anthropometric measurements are performed during well-baby check-ups.
Anthropometric measurements may be used by a nutritionist to determine the best exercise program for his or her patient.
Anthropometric measurements are used by the military to determine whether recruits are fit for duty.
Anthropometric measurements may be used in fitness testing for sports teams.
Anthropometric measurements include bodily circumference at the waist.
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  • Written By: S. Rumple
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 23 January 2015
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Anthropometric measurements are measurements that measure a person's body fat. To do this, they measure different parts of the body, including height, weight, and skinfold thickness, and the bodily circumference at the waist, hip, and chest. These measurements will give the examiner an accurate assessment of a person's body mass index (BMI).

The most common uses of the anthropometric measurements are during well-baby check-ups. The examiner will measure the baby's length and weight, as well as the circumference of the child's head, to ensure everything is good with the baby. The use of anthropometric measurements in adults can tell the examiner if a person is overweight or underweight. These measurements can also tell the examiner what illnesses a person might be more likely to get, such as anemia from malnutrition. This will let the doctor know if a person needs to see a nutritionist or other health expert.

A nutritionist will also use these measurements to help decide the best diet and exercise program for her patient. Anthropometric measurements are also used by the military to see if recruits are fit for duty. If a recruit is overweight, he or she may have trouble during fitness training and be susceptible to illnesses and diseases and this would make him or her unfit for service in the military.


Anthropometric measurements are also used in fitness testing for sports teams. Anyone who plans to join a sports team or perform sports or fitness activities should know their fitness level before beginning. An unfit person starting rigorous training could cause severe damage to his body. By knowing his measurements and adjusting his training program and diet for his fitness level, the likelihood of serious injury may be reduced.

To measure weight, the examiner may use a self-zeroing scale, although these scales have to be recalibrated often. To measure the height, the examiner may use a device that looks like a vertical ruler; it consists of a sliding horizontal rod or paddle that will rest on the person’s head. The person will stand straight against the device with feet together to give an accurate measurement of his or her height.

To measure the skin-folds for BMI, the examiner will take measurements over several different areas of the body, such as the arm, lower hips, and lower ribs of the chest. By taking these measurements in different locations, the examiner will get a more accurate average. Anthropometric measurements are normally done on the right side of the body unless there is a medical reason not to do so.



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Post 4

Does anyone out there know of any studies or testing procedures that account for keeping footwear and seasonal clothing donned? I am part of a research team that is testing several thousand students in a major metropolitan school system.

For logistics (mainly time elements to minimize time away from class), we made a team decision to leave shoes on during weight and height measurements. We are hoping to use BMI in our ANOVA analysis with growth motor test performance. Anyone with any suggestions?

Post 3

It was so much fun to see my little nephew get measured by the nurse every time we took him in when he was a baby. It was really good to keep tabs on him and make sure that he wasn't getting overweight. He was a very big baby, but he was just as tall as he was heavy, so we knew we were feeding him the right amount and generally the right kinds of foods.

I think it's really important, even if you don't have regular access to a nurse to investigate some anthropometric measurement tools so that you can keep track of your baby's growth. Stunted growth is sometimes the only indication that something is wrong and you want to catch anything early so the little one doesn't end up sick later in life.

Post 2

@pastanaga - My favorite anthropometric measurements for calculating how I'm doing with the diet and so forth are waist and hip circumference. That's supposed to be one of the best indicators of health and attractiveness anyway, regardless of muscle tone or height and it's easy enough to measure at home.

Plus, if you are gaining muscle tone, you might not be able to trust the scales, since muscle weighs so much it might be adding on there. If you are losing weight though, it will show in your waist.

Post 1

There's a bit of controversy surrounding the different ways of calculating body fat and BMI and other means of measuring how fat a person is. I know that BMI, for example, is falling out of favor now because it's notoriously unreliable when it comes to anyone who is in the least out of the average in terms of body shape or muscle mass.

So, for example, if you're fairly tall and have a lot of muscle, then you'll have a high BMI, perhaps even to the point of being labeled obese. And, if you are fairly skinny, with low muscle tone, you might be in the average zone even if you have an unhealthy percentage of body fat.

Anthropometric measurements, like using calipers, can be better, although they obviously require specialist equipment you won't find outside a gym. But, if you have lost a fair bit of weight, you might have loose skin that interferes with that kind of measurement as well.

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