Other anthropometric measurements

Anthropometric measurements sufficient to define the nutritional status in healthy individuals may be affected by non-nutritional factors. For example, bedridden patients will lose muscle mass without malnutrition. Therefore anthropometric measurements must be interpreted with care.

Measurements include mid-arm circumference and triceps skinfold thickness measured with a skin caliper. Mid-arm muscle circumference, which is calculated from the preceding two measures, reflects skeletal muscle. Triceps skinfold thickness reflects fat stores. High coefficients of variation between observers suggest that they should always be recorded by the same observer. Values obtained are compared with those of matched normal controls. Relating the values in any one person to a normal value in order to identify that person as malnourished or normal depends upon several factors, one of which is the range of the normal value. These measurements are of no value in cases of subcutaneous emphysema or generalized edema. Because of slow variations, these measures cannot be used to evaluate nutritional support efficacy.

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