Skinfold callipers for estimating body fat, England, 1954-1960
Callipers are used to estimate body fat by measuring the thickness of tissue directly under the skin. These callipers were used during the Harpenden Growth Study (1948-1970), which looked at the growth of children from a children’s home in Harpenden in Hertfordshire. The study monitored them from pre-school to maturity. The callipers were tested and used by the Medical Research Council’s (MRC) Committee on Growth and Form, set up in 1951. The aim was to gather scientific data about the human body, establish norms for weight and height for different ages and sections of society and identify those factors which affect the rate of growth.
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The measuring of body parts so that comparisons can be made. The aim is to measure normal and abnormal development. In the past, it has also been used in attempts to measure racial difference.
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Instruments consisting usually of a pair of hinged legs used for measuring dimensions, for example thickness or diameters.