Current body composition measurement techniques

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2017 Oct;24(5):310-314. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000360.


Purpose of review: The current article reviews the most innovative and precise, available methods for quantification of in-vivo human body composition.

Recent findings: Body composition measurement methods are continuously being perfected. Ongoing efforts involve multisegmental and multifrequency bioelectrical impedance analysis, quantitative magnetic resonance for total body water, fat, and lean tissue measurements, imaging to further define ectopic fat depots. Available techniques allow for the measurement of fat, fat-free mass, bone mineral content, total body water, extracellular water, total adipose tissue and its subdepots (visceral, subcutaneous, and intermuscular), skeletal muscle, select organs, and ectopic fat depots.

Summary: There is an ongoing need for methods that yield information on metabolic and biological functions. Based on the wide range of measurable properties, analytical methods and known body composition models, clinicians, and scientists can quantify a number of body components and with longitudinal assessment, can track changes in health and disease with implications for understanding efficacy of nutritional and clinical interventions, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment in clinical settings. With the greater need to understand precursors of health risk beginning prior to conception, a gap exists in appropriate in-vivo measurement methods with application beginning during gestation, that is, fetal development.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Water
  • Bone Density
  • Electric Impedance
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal