Body composition. Prediction of normal body potassium, body water and body fat in adults on the basis of body height, body weight and age

Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 1980 Sep;40(5):461-73. doi: 10.3109/00365518009101869.


In 134 males and 242 females, aged 20-70 years, most of them randomly selected from population studies, the body composition was estimated from the measurements of body height (BH), body weight (BW), total body potassium (TBK) and total body water (TBW). TBK was measured with isotope dilution technique using 42K or determined as 40K in a whole body counter. TBW was determined with an isotope dilution technique using tritiated water, assayed in urine or plasma. From these data, body cell mass (BCM), intra- and extra-cellular water (ICW and ECW, resp.) and body fat (BF) were calculated for each individual. Significant correlations were found between age versus TBK, ECW, BF and ECW/ICW; between BW versus TBK, TBW, ECW, BF and ECW/ICW; (females only) and between BH versus TBK, TBW, ECW (females only) and ECW/ICW. For the prediction of TBK, TBW and BF, multiple regression equations based on BW, BH and age are given. These equations are also presented diagrammatically. The problems with the methods used are considered as well as the applicability of the formulas for the calculation of BCM etc. The predictive value of the results when both TBW and TBK are used for the calculation of body composition data is discussed and compared with similar results, based on TBW or TBK only. It is concluded, that the most reliable method for calculation of BF is to estimate both TBW and TBK.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Body Height
  • Body Water / analysis
  • Body Weight
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipids / analysis
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Potassium / analysis
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Factors


  • Lipids
  • Potassium