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Abstract

The Omron HBF-500 is an inexpensive body composition monitor that incorporates both hand-to-hand and foot-to-foot electrical impedance technology. At this time, studies examining the accuracy of the HBF-500 when estimating percent body fat (%BF) are scarce and if this instrument gains popularity due to its claimed precision, comparisons against validated techniques should be conducted. The purpose of this study was to assess the accuracy of the Omron HBF-500 body composition monitor using the BOD POD as a criterion. Forty-eight men and 33 women participated in the study (24.3±6.9 years, 171.0±10.0 cm, 78.4±18.0 kg, 26.6±5.1 kg/m2). Participants were asked to refrain from exercise and caffeine on the day of testing, not eat a heavy meal three hours prior to measurement (a meal that would typically constitute breakfast, lunch or dinner), and to remain normally hydrated. Participants removed all jewelry and garments down to skintight clothing such as swimsuits or cycling shorts and were assessed on the BOD POD and Omron according to manufacturer’s guidelines. The Omron significantly overestimated %BF compared to the BOD POD in males (24.4±8.0 % and 22.9±9.1 %, respectively), and females (35.5±7.7 % and 30.1±7.9 %), p = .001. The Omron was significantly correlated with the BOD POD when assessing body fat, r= .95. The estimates of %BF produced by the BOD POD and HBF-500 differ considerably. Consequently, caution should be taken when using the Omron HBF-500 as a measure of body fat. However, given the difference of only 1.5% BF between the two methods, perhaps males could use the HBF-500 to gain a general idea of body composition status. For females, the degree of overestimation is too high to be suitable for this purpose and incorrect categorization of %BF status could result. In cases where an accurate estimate of %BF is crucial, using a more established method than the Omron is recommended.