Body Composition Analysis - What Can Be Measured with Practical Value?

Aktuelle Ernährungsmedizin 2006; 31(4): 189-195. doi: 10.1055/s-2006-940015.
Bosy-Westphal, A., Kromeyer-Hausschild, K., Pirlich,M., Schlattmann, A., Scholz, G. H., Müller, M. J.


Body composition research is used for normalization and interpretation of metabolic data as well as the assessment of nutritional intervention outcome or metabolic risk in overweight and underweight subjects. The present work sets out to compare anthropometry, near-infrared interactance, bioelectrical impedance analysis, air-displacement plethysmography, dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and imaging technology with respect to their outcome variables (e. g. fat mass, visceral fat mass, fat free mass, body cell mass, skeletal muscle mass, organ masses or phase angle), their validity and precision as well as their practical value and costs. Considering these criteria will allow to choose applications and facilitates a critical appraisal of the data. The underlying assumptions of the methods used for body composition analysis as well as the availability of appropriate reference data bases limits the practical application of the methods especially in groups like children, elderly or ill people.

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List of abbreviations

DGEM German Society for Nutritional Medicine (German Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährungsmedizin)
GESKES  Swiss Society for Clinical Nutrition (German Gesellschaft für klinische Ernährung der Schweiz) 
ESPEN European Society of Clinicl Nutrition and Metabolism