Prediction of fat-free mass using bioelectrical impedance analysis in young adults from five populations of African origin

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2013 Sep;67(9):956-60. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2013.123. Epub 2013 Jul 24.


Background/objectives: Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is used in population and clinical studies as a technique for estimating body composition. Because of significant under-representation in existing literature, we sought to develop and validate predictive equation(s) for BIA for studies in populations of African origin.

Subjects/methods: Among five cohorts of the Modeling the Epidemiologic Transition Study, height, weight, waist circumference and body composition, using isotope dilution, were measured in 362 adults, ages 25-45 with mean body mass indexes ranging from 24 to 32. BIA measures of resistance and reactance were measured using tetrapolar placement of electrodes and the same model of analyzer across sites (BIA 101Q, RJL Systems). Multiple linear regression analysis was used to develop equations for predicting fat-free mass (FFM), as measured by isotope dilution; covariates included sex, age, waist, reactance and height(2)/resistance, along with dummy variables for each site. Developed equations were then tested in a validation sample; FFM predicted by previously published equations were tested in the total sample.

Results: A site-combined equation and site-specific equations were developed. The mean differences between FFM (reference) and FFM predicted by the study-derived equations were between 0.4 and 0.6 kg (that is, 1% difference between the actual and predicted FFM), and the measured and predicted values were highly correlated. The site-combined equation performed slightly better than the site-specific equations and the previously published equations.

Conclusions: Relatively small differences exist between BIA equations to estimate FFM, whether study-derived or published equations, although the site-combined equation performed slightly better than others. The study-derived equations provide an important tool for research in these understudied populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Black People*
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electric Impedance
  • Female
  • Ghana
  • Humans
  • Jamaica
  • Life Style
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity
  • Nutritional Status
  • Seychelles
  • South Africa
  • United States