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JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1999 Sep-Oct;23(5):293-9.

A comparison of air displacement plethysmography with three other techniques to determine body fat in healthy adults.

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Department of Surgery, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232, USA.



This study compared air displacement plethysmography (ADP), which relies on measurements of body density to estimate body fat, with three other techniques that measure body composition: (1) hydrostatic weighing (HW), which also measures body density; (2) bioelectrical impedance (BIA), which determines electrical resistance and total body water to estimate fat-free mass; and (3) dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which measures bone, fat, and fat-free soft tissue masses.


ADP, HW, BIA, and DXA were performed on 20 healthy volunteers (10 males and 10 females). The subjects were within 20% of ideal body weight, 31.1 +/- 1.8 years of age, and 75.4 +/- 2.7 kg with body mass index values of 25.2 +/- 0.9 (kg/m2) and percent body fat by ADP ranging from 6.0% to 41.0%.


Percent body fat measurements by the four methods were highly correlated (r > .90, p < .0001). Mean body fat as determined by ADP, HW, BIA, and DXA were 23.4% +/- 2.3%, 23.9% +/-1.8%, 23.1% +/- 1.9%, and 26.4% +/- 2.4%, respectively (* p < .05 vs ADP). There was a significantly positive slope (+0.23) for the individual differences vs the average of ADP and HW percent body fat, demonstrating a slightly negative difference at lower body fat levels and a slightly positive difference at greater body fat levels. Although the average percent body fat determined by ADP was similar to that by HW for the entire population, there was a significant gender difference with the average body fat measured by ADP being 16% less in males and 7% greater in females than that determined by HW.


Body fat measurements using ADP were highly correlated with those using HW, BIA, and DXA across a relatively wide range of body fat levels in healthy adults. These results support the utility of ADP as a relatively new technique in the estimation of percent body fat in healthy adults. However, the error associated with gender and the level of body fat is not negligible and requires further investigation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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