Purpose One of the problems encountered in following overweight/obese patients undergoing exercise and/or dietary interventions is reliance on their total body weight alone, which frequently lags behind favorable body composition changes. Few new devices become available over-the-counter in retail stores that provide consumers with a valid and reliable instrument to evaluate body composition that can be bought over-the-counter in retail stores while at the same time being portable, low cost, and easy to operate while requiring little to no maintenance. We undertook a study comparing body fat content determined by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which is considered one of the standards for accurate assessment of body composition to a new easy to use over-the counter bioelectric impedance analysis instrument (BIA).
Methods We enrolled 38 healthy, young female volunteers (19.3 6 0.5 yrs; 165.7 6 5 lbs, and 21.95 6 2.39 kg/m≤) and performed early morning fasting body composition testing using both the DXA and BIA. Subjects were advised to avoid any activities leading to significant changes of body hydration status to comply with instructions from the device manufacturer. The study was approved by the institutional review board at the University of Oklahoma.
Results Study results showed the following: the percentage of body fat determined by DXA scan, 31.59 6 6.09%, was significantly higher than the percentage of body fat by BIA, 21.46 6 4.11% (p # .001); however, both results were within normal limits for the age-gender group established for each device. The correlation in percentage of body fat was very high (r = .85 with p < .00001). The mean difference between DXA and BIA values was 10.1 6 3.4% and was consistent across the body weight range. To evaluate possible correlations, we performed correlation analysis between the delta of body fat (ie, difference between BIA and DEXA percent body fat) and the absolute BMI using a two-tailed Pierson correlation resulted in an r of 2.306 with a p value of .62.
Conclusion Our results indicate that BIA is a sufficiently accurate and reasonably precise method of determining relatively "mobile " subcutaneous segment of the total body fat in lean young female subjects and for follow-up of weight management programs. Considering high clinical interest of following interval changes of the body fat content, rather than absolute values, we recommend intervention studies to assess dynamic changes, including initiation of diet and/or involvement in regular physical activity, to be undertaken. Consequently, determining the applicability of the method in the population with higher BMI is indicated.
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