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Clin Physiol Funct Imaging. 2015 Mar;35(2):81-97. doi: 10.1111/cpf.12152. Epub 2014 Apr 15.

Contemporary methods of body composition measurement.

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Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Center of Functional and Diagnostic Imaging and Research, University of Copenhagen, Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark.


Reliable and valid body composition assessment is important in both clinical and research settings. A multitude of methods and techniques for body composition measurement exist, all with inherent problems, whether in measurement methodology or in the assumptions upon which they are based. This review is focused on currently applied methods for in vivo measurement of body composition, including densitometry, bioimpedance analysis, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance techniques and anthropometry. Multicompartment models including quantification of trace elements by in vivo neutron activation analysis, which are regarded as gold standard methods, are also summarized. The choice of a specific method or combination of methods for a particular study depends on various considerations including accuracy, precision, subject acceptability, convenience, cost and radiation exposure. The relative advantages and disadvantages of each method are discussed with these considerations in mind.


anthropometry; bioimpedance analysis; body fat; densitometry; dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry; fat mass; fat-free mass; imaging; in vivo neutron activation analysis; multicompartment models

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