Validity of methods of body composition assessment in young and older men and women

J. L. Clasey, J. A. Kanaley, L. Wideman, S. B. Heymsfield, C. D. Teates, M. E. Gutgesell, M. O. Thorner, M. L. Hartman, A. Weltman

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127 Scopus citations


We examined the validity of percent body fat (%Fat) estimation by two- compartment (2-Comp) hydrostatic weighing (Siri 2-Comp), 3-Comp dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA 3-Comp), 3-Comp hydrostatic weighing corrected for the total body water (Siri 3-Comp), and anthropometric methods in young and older individuals (n = 78). A 4-Comp model of body composition served as the criterion measure of %Fat (Heyms-field 4-Comp; S. B. Heymsfield, S. Lichtman, R. N. Baumgartner, J. Wang, Y. Kamen, A. Aliprantis, and R. N. Pierson Jr., Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 52: 52-58, 1990.). Comparison of the Siri 3-Comp with the Heymsfield 4-Comp model revealed mean differences of ≤0.4 %Fat, r values ≥ r = 0.997, total error values ≤ 0.85 %Fat, and 95% confidence intervals (Bland-Altman analysis) of ≤1.7 %Fat. Comparison of Siri 2-Comp, DEXA, and anthropometric models with the Heymsfield 4-Comp revealed that total error scores ranged from ±4.0 to ±10.7 %Fat, and 95% confidence intervals associated with the Bland-Airman analysis ranged from ±5.1 to ±15.0 %Fat. We conclude that the Siri 3-Comp model provides valid and accurate body composition data when compared with a 4-Comp criterion model. However, the individual variability associated with the Siri 2-Comp, DEXA 3-Comp, and anthropometric models may limit theft use in research settings. The use of anthropometric estimation methods resulted in large mean differences and a considerable amount of interindividual variability. These data suggest that the use of these techniques should be viewed with caution.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1728-1738
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1999


  • Body density
  • Body fat
  • Body water
  • Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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