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Am J Clin Nutr. 1996 Sep;64(3 Suppl):524S-532S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/64.3.524S.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis in body composition measurement: National Institutes of Health Technology Assessment Conference Statement.

[No authors listed]


The objective of this conference was to provide physicians with a responsible assessment of bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) technology for body composition measurement. Participants were a non-Federal, nonadvocate, 13-member panel representing the fields of nutrition, pediatrics, surgery, public health, biomedical engineering, epidemiology, and biostatistics. In addition, 20 experts in nutrition, pediatrics, metabolism, biomedical engineering, physiology, and epidemiology presented data to the panel and a conference audience of 220. The literature was searched through Medline and an extensive bibliography of references was provided to the panel and the conference audience. Experts prepared abstracts with relevant citations from the literature. Scientific evidence was given precedence over clinical anecdotal experience. The panel, answering predefined questions, developed their conclusions based on the scientific evidence presented in open forum and the scientific literature. The panel composed a draft statement that was read in its entirety and circulated to the experts and the audience for comment. Thereafter, the panel resolved conflicting recommendations and released a revised statement at the end of the conference. The panel finalized the revisions within a few weeks after the conference. The panel concluded that BIA provides a reliable estimate of total body water under most conditions. It can be a useful technique for body composition analysis in healthy individuals and in those with a number of chronic conditions such as mild-to-moderate obesity, diabetes mellitus, and other medical conditions in which major disturbances of water distribution are not prominent. BIA values are affected by numerous variables including body position, hydration status, consumption of food and beverages, ambient air and skin temperature, recent physical activity, and conductance of the examining table. Reliable BIA requires standardization and control of these variables. A specific, well-defined procedure for performing routine BIA measurements is not practiced. Therefore, the panel recommends that a committee of appropriate scientific experts and instrument manufacturers be formed with the goal of setting instrument standards and procedural methods.

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