Honors Projects


Comparison of Body Composition Assessment Techniques in Older Adult Females

Introduction: As the aging population increases, the need for accurate assessment of chronic disease risk also increases. There is considerable debate over the best way to assess this risk. BMI is a weight-to-height ratio that is commonly used to assess adiposity and obesity related risk. However, it does not differentiate lean (i.e., muscle and bone) versus fat mass – the true predictors of obesity-related diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease and diabetes). This is prevalent in post-menopausal women who often experience age-related gains in fat mass and losses in lean mass.

Methods: In a single visit study, 36 Caucasian females (aged 57.9±6.8 years) were assessed for body mass index (BMI:26.4±6.2 kg/m2, 25.0% obese); sagittal abdominal diameter (SAD: 20.4±4.6 cm, 66.6% obese); waist circumference measured at the umbilicus (90.8±13.8 cm, 52.8% obese) and narrowest area (83.5±12.9 cm, 36.1% obese); and body fat percent by bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA: 33.5±9.5%, 22.2% obese) and air­displacement plethysmography (ADP: 35.9±8.7%, 36.1% obese).

Results: According to all adiposity measures, 19.4% of participants were classified as obese whereas 22.2% were classified as healthy. Variable results were found in 58.3% of participants. All measurements were strongly correlated (r≥0.713, p<0.001).

Conclusion: When using ADP as the criterion method, WCN, BIA, and BMI classified individuals similarly as obese or healthy. Despite high correlations, WCU and SAD tended to overestimate adiposity, causing many variable results. A lack of standardization impacts the ability of health care professionals to properly assess risk and target appropriate interventions.





First Advisor

Mary Jon Ludy

First Advisor Department


Second Advisor

Amy Morgan

Second Advisor Department

Exercise Science

Publication Date

Spring 4-27-2015