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Am J Physiol. 1997 May;272(5 Pt 1):E781-7.

Density of fat-free body mass: relationship with race, age, and level of body fatness.

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1
Department of Human Nutrition, Wageningen Agricultural University, The Netherlands.

Abstract

The two-compartment body composition method assumes that fat-free body mass (FFM) has a density of 1.100 kg/l. This study tested the hypothesis that FFM density is independent of race, age, and body fatness. Subjects were 703 black and white subjects, ages 20-94 yr, with body mass index (BMI) 17-35 kg/m2. Body composition was assessed using a four-compartment model based on tritium dilution volume, body density by underwater weighing, bone mineral by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and body weight. No relationship was observed between FFM density and race or BMI. A tendency was observed for a lower FFM density only in older white women. The difference in percent body fat (delta fat) between the four-compartment model and underwater weighing was < 2% for all groups. Race, age, and BMI explained only 2.3 (women) and 1.4% (men) of the variance in delta fat, whereas the total body water fraction of FFM explained 77%. In contrast to current thinking, these results show that the assumption of constant FFM density is valid in black, elderly, and obese subjects.

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