Digital anthropometry: a critical review

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 May;72(5):680-687. doi: 10.1038/s41430-018-0145-7. Epub 2018 May 10.


Anthropometry, Greek for human measurement, is a tool widely used across many scientific disciplines. Clinical nutrition applications include phenotyping subjects across the lifespan for assessing growth, body composition, response to treatments, and predicting health risks. The simple anthropometric tools such as flexible measuring tapes and calipers are now being supplanted by rapidly developing digital technology devices. These systems take many forms, but excitement today surrounds the introduction of relatively low cost three-dimensional optical imaging methods that can be used in research, clinical, and even home settings. This review examines this transformative technology, providing an overview of device operational details, early validation studies, and potential applications. Digital anthropometry is rapidly transforming dormant and static areas of clinical nutrition science with many new applications and research opportunities.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Anthropometry / instrumentation*
  • Body Composition
  • Databases, Factual
  • Humans
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Principal Component Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Tomography Scanners, X-Ray Computed