Body composition in ballet dancers measured by total body electrical conductivity

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1991 May;23(5):528-33.


The purpose of this study was to describe the body composition of adolescent and young adult ballet dancers using total body electrical conductivity (TOBEC). We studied 112 female and 33 male dancers. The mean ages were 15.0 +/- 2.0 and 18.7 +/- 3.1 yr for females and males, respectively. The mean percent body fat (PBF) values were 20.1 +/- 3.6% for the females and 14.5 +/- 4.2% for the males. Age and pubertal development were not significantly related to PBF in the females. Age and pubertal status were significantly inversely related to PBF in the males. There was no difference in dance history, percent body fat, and abdominal/hip or waist/hip ratios in eumenorrheic vs amenorrheic dancers. Estimated calorie intake indicated that dancers with menstrual abnormalities had lower calorie intake than those with normal menses. This is the largest group of ballet dancers whose body composition has been studied. Our PBF measurements are higher than in previous reports using hydrodensitometry, which may have underestimated body fat by not accounting for the increased bone density in the lower extremities of dancers. Our data suggest that previous measurements of PBF in dancers are underestimates; these new data challenge our concept of PBF values in dancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Amenorrhea
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Body Water*
  • Dancing*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Puberty