Validation of DXA body composition estimates in obese men and women

Joseph LaForgia, James Dollman, Michael J. Dale, Robert T. Withers, Alison M. Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of this study was to determine the accuracy of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA)-derived percentage fat estimates in obese adults by using four-compartment (4C) values as criterion measures. Differences between methods were also investigated in relation to the influence of fat-free mass (FFM) hydration and various anthropometric measurements. Six women and eight men (age 22-54 years, BMI 28.7-39.9 kg/m 2, 4C percent body fat (%BF) 31.3-52.6%) had relative body fat (%BF) determined via DXA and a 4C method that incorporated measures of body density (BD), total body water (TBW), and bone mineral mass (BMM) via underwater weighing, deuterium dilution, and DXA, respectively. Anthropometric measurements were also undertaken: height, waist and gluteal girth, and anterior-posterior (A-P) chest depth. Values for both methods were significantly correlated (r 2 = 0.894) and no significant difference (P = 0.57) was detected between the means (DXA = 41.1%BF, 4C = 41.5%BF). The slope and intercept for the regression line were not significantly different (P > 0.05) from 1 and 0, respectively. Although both methods were significantly correlated, intraindividual differences between the methods were sizable (4C-DXA, range = 3.04 to 4.01%BF) and significantly correlated with tissue thickness (chest depth) or most surrogates of tissue thickness (body mass, BMI, waist girth) but not FFM hydration and gluteal girth. DXA provided cross-sectional %BF data for obese adults without bias. However, individual data are associated with large prediction errors (±4.2%BF). This error appears to be associated with tissue thickness indicating that the DXA device used may not be able to accurately account for beam hardening in obese cohorts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-826
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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