Tolfrey_IJSPPTracking_changes_in_body_fat_wheelchair_text revised 2020_FINAL-CLEAN COPY.pdf (469.16 kB)

Tracking within-athlete changes in whole body fat percentage in wheelchair athletes

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journal contribution
posted on 30.01.2020, 10:46 by Vicky Goosey-Tolfrey, Julia O Totosy de Zepetnek, Mhairi Keil, Katherine Brooke-Wavell, Alan Batterham
Purpose: To evaluate tracking of within-athlete changes in criterion measures of whole-body fat percentage (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry; DXA) with skinfold thickness measures (Σ 4, 6, or 8) in wheelchair basketball players. Methods: This longitudinal study tracked body composition of sixteen international wheelchair basketball players at 5 time points over a 15-month training/competition period. The primary outcome was DXA-derived whole-body fat percentage (BF%), with Σ 4, 6, or 8 skinfolds (mm) as the predictor variable. Data were analysed using a linear mixed model with restricted maximum likelihood (random intercept, with identity covariance structure) to derive the within-athlete prediction error for predicting criterion BF% from Σ skinfolds. This prediction error allowed us evaluate how well a simple measure of the Σ skinfolds could track criterion changes in BF%; that is, we derived the change in Σ skinfolds that would have to be observed in an individual athlete to conclude that a substantial change in criterion BF% had occurred. All data were log-transformed prior to analysis. Results: Σ 8 skinfolds were the most precise practical measure for tracking changes in BF%. For the monitoring of an individual male wheelchair basketball player, a change in Σ 8 skinfolds by a factor of greater than 1.28 (multiply or divide by 1.28) is associated with a practically meaningful change in BF% (≥1 percentage point). Conclusions: Σ 8 skinfolds can track changes in BF% within individual wheelchair athletes with reasonable precision, providing a useful field monitoring tool in the absence of often impractical criterion measures


English Institute of Sport

Peter Harrison Foundation

Great Britain Wheelchair Basketball Federation



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

Published in

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance


Human Kinetics


AM (Accepted Manuscript)

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© Human Kinetics

Publisher statement

Accepted author manuscript version reprinted, by permission, from International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, 2020] (ahead of print). © Human Kinetics, Inc.

Acceptance date







Prof Vicky Tolfrey Deposit date: 28 January 2020