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Body fat analyzers: How accurate are they?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/body-fat-analyzers/AN01789
- With Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist
Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.read biographyclose window
Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
Dr. Edward Laskowski is certified by the American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, including subspecialty certification in sports medicine, and is a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine. He is co-director of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center and a professor at College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic.
He has been on the staff of Mayo Clinic since 1990 and specializes in sports medicine, fitness, strength training and stability training. He works with a multidisciplinary team of physical medicine, rehabilitation and orthopedic specialists, physical therapists, and sports psychologists.
Dr. Laskowski is an elite-level skier and an avid hiker, cyclist and climber. He approaches sports medicine from the perspective of a physician and an athlete.
In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Laskowski to the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and he has received a Distinguished Service Award from the Department of Health and Human Services for his contribution to the Council.
Dr. Laskowski was a member of the medical staff of the Olympic Polyclinic at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and has provided medical coverage for the Chicago Marathon. He serves as a consulting physician to the National Hockey League Players' Association and is a featured lecturer at the American College of Sports Medicine's Team Physician Course.
Dr. Laskowski, a Cary, Ill., native, has contributed to Mayo Clinic's CD-ROM on sports, health and fitness, a website guide to self-care, and hundreds of Mayo Clinic articles and booklets in print and online. He is a contributing editor to the "Mayo Clinic Fitness for EveryBody" book, and he has presented lectures throughout the world on health, fitness and sports medicine topics. His teaching expertise has been recognized by his election to the Teacher of the Year Hall of Fame at Mayo Clinic.
"There are many myths and misconceptions about exercise and fitness in general, and also many traditions that don't stand up to scientific scrutiny," he says. "My goal is to provide the most up-to-date and accurate information on sports medicine and fitness topics in a way that you can practically incorporate into your life."
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Body fat analyzers: How accurate are they?
How accurate are portable body fat analyzers?
from Edward R. Laskowski, M.D.
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Although the technology is improving, it's difficult to get an accurate body fat measurement from most commercially available body fat analyzers.
Various types of body fat analyzers — also called impedance meters — are available to the general public. Results from portable body fat analyzers can vary depending on many factors, however, including the quality of the device and how hydrated you are when the measurement is taken.
If you're concerned about your body fat percentage, skip the commercially available body fat analyzers and ask your doctor about more accurate measurement techniques.
Depending on the circumstances, options may include:
- Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry. This is a specialized X-ray exam that provides detailed information about the ratio between fat, muscle and bones in specific parts of the body.
- Air displacement plethysmography. With this technique, you're enclosed in a computerized, egg-shaped chamber (Bod Pod, others). The device measures your weight and volume to determine your body density, then uses these figures to calculate your percentage of body fat.
- Underwater weighing. Also known as hydrodensitometry, this method involves sitting on a special chair submerged under water. Your underwater weight or body density is then used to calculate your percentage of body fat.
Body fat can also be estimated using cross-sectional imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scan. These scans can provide the most precise body composition measurements, especially for intra-abdominal fat measurement. They are expensive, however, and not indicated for everyone.
Depending on the information desired, you and your doctor can determine the optimal type of body fat measurement. Keep in mind that specific body fat measurement techniques can be expensive and may not be available in all locations.Next question
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- Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 2, 2012.