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Techniques Suitable For Monitoring Human Body Fat

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Discussion about the techniques suitable for monitoring human body fat and their use in the clinic?


Today, obesity is considered as a burden of society. It is found that many obese people are reluctant to lose their weight (Wells, 2010). Therefore, these people need to visit the clinic and measure their body fat, so that they can realize the danger, they are living with. There are many techniques used in the clinics that are helpful to monitor body fat easily. However, the effectiveness of these procedures is still questionable.

It is observed that the most accessible method used in clinics to measure body fat is “Skin Calipers." Skin calipers are easily accessible and relatively inexpensive than other methods used to monitor human body fat (Selkow, Pietrosimone and Saliba, 2011). However, this method depends on the accurate readings from only a few sites on the body. Therefore, measurement error can take place due to the inexperience and lack of knowledge of the clinical technician (Sung et al. 2013). On the other hand, bioelectrical impedance is used in many clinics. Bioelectrical impedance is a simple electronic device, which shoots electric impulse through foot and measures the amount of fat in the body by counting time of receiving signal back (Haroun et al. 2010). It is found that less time indicates the lesser amount of fat in the body. This device is also affordable and better than many other traditional methods. However, it is found that bioelectrical impedance is less accurate than DEXA scan, which is widely used in clinics. DEXA or Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry is broadly used in the clinic. DEXA uses X-ray beams to measure the bone mineral densities as well as other body compositions (Mulligan et al. 2011). This technique is very useful since, this test can analyze body composition of each limb so that one can find which body part has more fat. However, this method is expensive and time-consuming (Mulligan et al. 2011). Another method used in the clinics to monitor body fat is Hydrostatic weighing. In this method, the technician compares the weight of a person in water (completely submerged in water) and his or her normal body weight, which is outside of the water (Okorodudu et al. 2010). The density of water and these two weights helps the technician to calculate accurate body density and the amount of fat in the body. This method is a truly accurate technique, and chances of error are very rare in this test. However, this technique is also costly and cannot be performed at home. Another drawback of this method is that the subject is forced to exhale most of the air from the lung, so this technique is not suitable for elderly persons. Also, people who are afraid of water cannot access this technique (Okorodudu et al. 2010). On the other hand, DEXA can give same accurate result by simply lying on a table and without exhausting the body. It has also been observed that DEXA is helpful to monitor the presence of preventive medicines in the body as well as evaluating clinical disease related to obesity.

Many techniques are used to monitor body fat in clinics. All of these techniques are not accessible to common people since most of the accurate techniques used in the clinics are expensive. However, there are few simple techniques, which are easily accessible to common people at home. Therefore, people need to be concerned about their health and take possible steps to remain fit.



Haroun, D., Taylor, S.J., Viner, R.M., Hayward, R.S., Darch, T.S., Eaton, S., Cole, T.J. and Wells, J.C., 2010. Validation of bioelectrical impedance analysis in adolescents across different ethnic groups. Obesity, 18(6), pp.1252-1259.

Mulligan, K., Glidden, D., Gonzales, P., Ramirez-Cardich, M.E., Liu, A.Y., Namwongprom, S. and Chodacki, P., 2011, March. Effects of emtricitabine/tenofovir on bone mineral density in seronegative men from 4 continents: DEXA results of the global iPrEx study. In 18th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

Okorodudu, D.O., Jumean, M.F., Montori, V.M., Romero-Corral, A., Somers, V.K., Erwin, P.J. and Lopez-Jimenez, F., 2010. Diagnostic performance of body mass index to identify obesity as defined by body adiposity: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Obesity, 34(5), pp.791-799.

Selkow, N.M., Pietrosimone, B.G. and Saliba, S.A., 2011. Subcutaneous thigh fat assessment: a comparison of skinfold calipers and ultrasound imaging. Journal of athletic training, 46(1), p.50.

Sung, M., Spieker, A.J., Narayanaswami, P. and Rutkove, S.B., 2013. The effect of subcutaneous fat on electrical impedance myography when using a handheld electrode array: The case for measuring reactance. Clinical Neurophysiology, 124(2), pp.400-404.

Wells, J.C., 2010. The evolutionary biology of human body fatness: thrift and control (No. 58). Cambridge University Press.



COOL, S.F.C.V.T. and GADGET, E., 2014. SKIN-FOLD CALIPERS VS BMI. Hip (mm), 16(8), pp.6-8.

Gupta, N., Balasekaran, G., Govindaswamy, V.V., Hwa, C.Y. and Shun, L.M., 2011. Comparison of body composition with bioelectric impedance (BIA) and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) among Singapore Chinese. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 14(1), pp.33-35.

Piccoli, A., 2010. Bioelectric impedance measurement for fluid status assessment.

Rieken, R., Calis, E.A., Tibboel, D., Evenhuis, H.M. and Penning, C., 2010. Validation of skinfold measurements and bioelectrical impedance analysis in children with severe cerebral palsy: a review. Clinical Nutrition, 29(2), pp.217-221.

Selkow, N.M., Pietrosimone, B.G. and Saliba, S.A., 2011. Subcutaneous thigh fat assessment: a comparison of skinfold calipers and ultrasound imaging. Journal of athletic training, 46(1), p.50.


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