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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine the accuracy of percent body fat estimates from seven different bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) models and a seven-site skin fold formula (SKF) compared with air displacement plethysmography (ADP) in females. Eighty-two female volunteers ranging from 19-67 years (31.96 ± 1.39) enrolled in this study. Body composition was assessed by seven site skin folds (SKF), ADP, Tetrapolar BIA (TBIA), and five consumer grade BIA devices: finger to finger (FF), hand to hand (HH) and three different leg to leg (LL1, LL2, LL3) models. In addition, LL3 was analyzed using the athletic (LL3a) and non-athletic modes (LL3b). The Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects at Eastern Washington University approved this study. The participants represented a wide range of percentage body fat (BF) as assessed by ADP (8.40 to 47.10, mean = 26.15 ± 0.93 SEE). No difference in the estimated percent body fat was found between ADP and SKF, TBIA, FF, HH, LL1, LL2, LL3a, and LL3b (r=0.862, 0.553, 0.775, 0.771, 0.765, 0.791, 0.798, 0.796 respectively; P<0.001). Bland-Altman plots of the differences between % fat by ADP and BIA versus average % fat by the two methods showed no systematic differences for SKF and the seven BIA models (mean differences ± SD : SKF, 1.92 ± 4.25; TBIA, 0.73 ± 7.3; FF, -1.55 ± 5.34, HH, 1.37 ± 5.35; LL1, -4.70 ± 5.40, LL2, -3.72 ± 5.12 and LL3a, 1.70 ± 5.07; LL3b, -6.11 ± 31.40 p<0.05). Skin fold measures were found to be the most reliable field method of estimating body composition. Of the BIA machines tested, the strongest relationship was found in the LL models with the LL3 in athletic mode (LL3a) being the most reliable. For the more affordable models, the LL2 was the most reliable compared to ADP.

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