Percent body fat via DEXA: comparison with a four-compartment model

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2003 Feb;94(2):499-506. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00436.2002.


This study compared body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA; Lunar DPX-L) with that via a four-compartment (4C; water, bone mineral mass, fat, and residual) model. Relative body fat was determined for 152 healthy adults [30.0 +/- 11.1 (SD) yr; 75.10 +/- 14.88 kg; 176.3 +/- 8.7 cm] aged from 18 to 59 yr. The 4C approach [20.7% body fat (%BF)] resulted in a significantly (P < 0.001) higher mean %BF compared with DEXA (18.9% BF), with intraindividual variations ranging from -2.6 to 7.3% BF. Linear regression and a Bland and Altman plot demonstrated the tendency for DEXA to progressively underestimate the %BF of leaner individuals compared with the criterion 4C model (4C %BF = 0.862 x DEXA %BF + 4.417; r(2) = 0.952, standard error of estimate = 1.6% BF). This bias was not attributable to variations in fat-free mass hydration but may have been due to beam-hardening errors that resulted from differences in anterior-posterior tissue thickness.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon*
  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Anatomic*