Body Composition Measurements from Birth through 5 Years: Challenges, Gaps, and Existing & Emerging Technologies-A National Institutes of Health workshop

Obes Rev. 2020 Aug;21(8):e13033. doi: 10.1111/obr.13033. Epub 2020 Apr 20.


Body composition estimates are widely used in clinical research and field studies as measures of energy-nutrient balance, functionality and health. Despite their broad relevance and multiple applications, important gaps remain in techniques available for accurately and precisely quantifying body composition in infants and children from birth through 5 years. Identifying these gaps and highlighting research needs in this age group were the topics of a National Institutes of Health workshop held in Bethesda, MD, USA, 30-31 May 2019. Experts reviewed available methods (multicompartment models, air-displacement plethysmography, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, weight-length and height indices, bioimpedance analysis, anthropometry-skinfold techniques, quantitative magnetic resonance, optical imaging, omics and D3-creatine dilution), their limitations in this age range and high priority research needs. A summary of their individual and collective workshop deliberations is provided in this report.

Keywords: early childhood phenotyping; growth; nutritional assessment.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Weights and Measures / methods*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electric Impedance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • National Institutes of Health (U.S.)
  • Optical Imaging
  • Plethysmography
  • United States