Evaluation of the BOD POD for estimating percentage body fat in a heterogeneous group of adult humans

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2001 Aug;85(3-4):326-32. doi: 10.1007/s004210100459.


The primary purpose of this investigation was to compare estimations of percentage body fat (%fat) using air displacement plethysmography (ADP) and hydrostatic weighing (HW) in a heterogeneous (age and %fat) sample of the population. Of secondary importance was to determine whether there were differences between the two methods among lean (n = 32), average (n = 34) and overweight (n = 29) subsets of this sample. A total of 95 adults (men 27, women 68) ranging in age from 18-52 years volunteered for this study. Test-retest reliability for %fat ADP (n = 16) was 0.99 with a technical error of 0.75%fat and a coefficient of variation of 3.4%fat. Mean body density using ADP [1.048 (SD 0.016) g.ml-1] was not significantly different when compared to HW [1.049 (SD 0.017) g.ml-1], which corresponded to a non-significant difference in %fat [22.5 (SD 7.3)% ADP compared to 22.0 (SD 7.6)% HW]. Regression analysis provided the equation: %fat HW = 0.9121%fat ADP + 1.5123; r = 0.88, SEE = 3.6, which did not differ significantly from the line of identity. Data for the subsets revealed a significant overestimation of %fat ADP [16.4 (SD 4.8)%] compared to HW [14.1 (SD 3.2)%] (P = 0.001) for lean individuals while no difference was found in the average [21.9 (SD 4.4)%fat ADP compared to 22.0 (SD 3.4)%fat HW] or overweight [29.9 (SD 5.5)%fat ADP compared to 30.8 (SD 4.1)%fat HW] subsets. Measuring %fat by ADP is a highly reliable method and valid when compared to HW for a heterogeneous sample of adults. The ADP method requires little expertise to operate, is quick to perform, and may be more accommodating for certain individuals compared to HW. However, in this study ADP was less valid for lean individuals. Further investigation is warranted to determine the bias of this method for subsets of the population which may be outside the average range of %fat (men 15.4%-22.0%, women 18.4%-28.5%).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity / pathology*
  • Plethysmography / methods*
  • Plethysmography / standards
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Water / analysis


  • Water