Validity and reliability of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry for the assessment of abdominal adiposity

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2004 Aug;97(2):509-14. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.01234.2003. Epub 2004 Apr 9.


A number of methods exist for the estimation of abdominal obesity, ranging from waist-to-hip ratio to computed tomography (CT). Although dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) was originally used to measure bone density and total body composition, recent improvements in software allow it to determine abdominal fat mass. Sixty-five men and women aged 18-72 yr participated in a series of studies to examine the validity and reliability of the DXA to accurately measure abdominal fat. Total body fat and abdominal regional fat were measured by DXA using a Lunar DPX-IQ. Multislice CT scans were performed between L1 and L4 vertebral bodies (region of interest) using a Picker PQ5000 CT scanner, and volumetric analyses were carried out on a Voxel Q workstation. Both abdominal total tissue mass (P = 0.02) and abdominal fat mass (P < 0.0001) in the L1-L4 region of interest were significantly lower as measured by DXA compared with multislice CT. However, Bland-Altman analysis demonstrated good concordance between DXA and CT for abdominal total tissue mass (i.e., limits of agreement = -1.56-2.54 kg) and fat mass (i.e., limits of agreement = -0.40-1.94 kg). DXA also showed excellent reliability among three different operators to determine total, fat, and lean body mass in the L1-L4 region of interest (intraclass correlations, R = 0.94, 0.97, and 0.89, respectively). In conclusion, the DXA L1-L4 region of interest compared with CT proved to be both reliable and accurate method to determine abdominal obesity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen*
  • Absorptiometry, Photon / standards*
  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adipose Tissue / pathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results