Determining body composition in adults
- George A Bray, MD
George A Bray, MD
- Boyd Professor Emeritus, Pennington Biomedical Research Center/Louisiana State University
- Professor of Medicine Emeritus, Louisiana State University Health Science Center
- Leigh Perreault, MD
Leigh Perreault, MD
- Associate Professor of Medicine
- University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus
- Associate Professor of Epidemiology
- Colorado School of Public Health
Methods for determining body composition continue to improve, greatly increasing the accuracy and ease of making these measurements [1-4]. Certain measurements, such as height, weight (to calculate body mass index [BMI]), and waist circumference are the minimal clinical criteria for evaluating the overweight patient.
This topic will review body composition and critique most methods available for its measurement. Other considerations when evaluating the overweight patient are discussed elsewhere. (See "Obesity in adults: Prevalence, screening, and evaluation".)
WHY MEASURE BODY COMPOSITION?
When considering health and disease, body weight is not nearly as important as the composition of that weight. Body weight reflects the combined weight of all the body's tissues, while body composition measures the relative proportions of fat and lean mass in the body. Lean mass refers to bones, tissues, organs, and muscle.
Measurements of body composition are most commonly done for research purposes. However, body composition measurements may also be useful in a number of clinical settings to:
●Evaluate undernourished patients.
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