Topend Sports Logo

Bodyfat Percentage Visual Method

The amount of body fat contained in the body is often represented as a percent of the total body mass. It is common to measure body fat percentage using the skinfold measurement method, though there are many alternative methods. Here is a simple method using images to estimate body fat levels.

A Visual Estimation Method

The simplest method to determine if someone is overweight is to just look at them. This is very subjective of course, and a poor alternative to actually measuring someone, but sometimes this is all that is possible. When you look at someone, you quickly know that someone is overweight and needs to lose weight, and when they do lose a significant amount of weight it is usually easy to see. Trained observers with repeated exposure to different body types can be good at estimating body fat (Sterner & Burke, 1986). Using images as presented below can help make a more objective judgment. This method could be improved by using a computer algorithm to estimate body fat levels using digital photographs, rather than a trained eye (Affuso et al., 2018).

purpose: to estimate body fat level by visual inspection and comparison to an image chart

equipment: comparison images

procedure: It is best if the participant is stripped down to minimal clothing. Compare their body shape to the images below and select the closest approximation.

body fat estimation usig images of men
body fat estimation usig images of women


results: Check these norms to see a rating for each level of body fat. There are also examples of some actual athlete results.

target population: suitable for non-athletic populations, and those in which physically taking skinfold measurement is not appropriate.

reliability: to improve reliability, the same person should assess the participant each time. A larger range of images would also improve reliability.

advantages: a score can be achieved without any physical contact.


Similar Tests

Related Pages

send us a comment Any comments, suggestions, or corrections? Please let us know.

Testing Extra

We have over 400 fitness tests listed, so it's not easy to choose the best one to use. You should consider the validity, reliability, costs and ease of use for each test. Use our testing guide to conducting, recording, and interpreting fitness tests. Any questions, please ask or search for your answer.

 → How to Cite