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Am J Hum Biol. 2015 Nov-Dec;27(6):871-6. doi: 10.1002/ajhb.22728. Epub 2015 Apr 18.

New specific bioelectrical impedance vector reference values for assessing body composition in the Italian-Spanish young adult population.

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Department of Genetics, Physical Anthropology and Animal Physiology, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU), Bilbao, 48080, Spain.
Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Cagliari, Monserrato, 09042, (Cagliari), Italy.
Department of Biomedical and Specialty Surgical Sciences, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, 44121, Italy.



Specific bioelectrical impedance vector analysis (spBIVA) is a recently proposed technique for the analysis of body composition. The aim of this study was to apply spBIVA to a sample of Italian and Spanish young adults and to define the new bioelectrical references for this Western Mediterranean population.


A sample of 440 individuals (220 from Italy, 220 from Spain; 213 men, 227 women) aged 18-30 years was considered. Anthropometric (height, weight, relaxed upper arm, waist, and calf girths) and bioelectrical (resistance, reactance; 50 kHz, 800 μA) measurements were taken. In order to verify the need for new references, specific bioelectrical values were compared to the reference values for U.S. adults and Italian elderly by tolerance ellipses and Student's t test.


The mean specific bioelectrical values (resistivity, Rsp, and reactivity, Xcsp, Ohm·cm) were: Rsp (332.7 ± 41.7 Ω·cm), Xcsp (44.4 ± 6.8 Ω·cm), Zsp (335.6 ± 41.9 Ω·cm) and phase (7.6 ± 0.8°) in men; Rsp (388.6 ± 60 Ω·cm), Xcsp (43.7 ± 7.5 Ω·cm), Zsp (391.0 ± 60.3 Ω·cm) and phase (6.4 ± 0.7°) in women. Italo-Spanish bioelectrical vectors were mainly distributed (>90%) in the lower part of the tolerance ellipses for U.S. young adults, due to a shorter impedance (P < 0.001), indicative of a lower percent fat mass. Compared to Italian elders, they were mainly located in the left side (>90%), due to a higher phase (P < 0.001), indicative of higher body cell mass.


These population and age-related differences indicate the need for new specific tolerance ellipses that can be used as references for assessing body composition in young adults from Western Mediterranean populations.

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