Measurement Tools — Girth Measurements

What It Is

Girth measurements are circumference measurements taken at a specific body site and recorded. They are converted to a constant and then entered into a formula to predict percent body fat. The sites measured differ depending on a person's age and gender.

  • For ages 18 to 26: Men measure the right biceps, right forearm, and abdomen. Women measure the abdomen, right thigh and right forearm.
  • For ages 27 to 50: Men measure the hips (buttocks), abdomen, and right forearm Women measure the abdomen, right thigh, and right calf.

Equipment Used

Non-stretchable tape measures

How It's Done

  • Clothing is removed to make sure measuring tape is positioned correctly.
  • The non-stretchable tape is placed evenly around each site that is measured. (Using a full-length mirror will help assure that the tape is level all around the abdomen and hips.)
  • For each site, the length of the non-stretchable tape defines the circumference.
  • The measurements correspond to various conversion constants that are entered into a formula to predict percent body fat.


  • It's easy
  • It's economical


  • The prediction equations are not accurate in people who are very thin or fat or who regularly participate in strenuous sports or resistance (strength) training.
  • Pulling the tape too tightly or leaving it too loose is a significant source of error in the measurement. · This method may not be appropriate for people over 50 years of age.

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