Comparison of BIA and DXA for Estimating Body Composition in Collegiate Female Athletes

Brett S. Nickerson, Ronald L. Snarr, Angela R. Russell, Phillip A. Bishop, Michael R. Esco


Purpose: The purpose of this investigation was to compare bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) to dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) for predicting body fat percentage (BF%) and fat-free mass (FFM) in collegiate female athletes.

Methods: Forty-four collegiate female athletes (age = 21.1 ± 2.0 years; height = 166.5 ± 6.9 cm; weight = 63.9 ± 10.0 kg) volunteered to participate in the study.  Each participant’s BF% and FFM was determined via BIA and DXA.

Results: The mean (± SD) BF% determined by DXA was 27.7 ± 5.9% and by BIA was 25.8 ± 3.2%, which was significantly different (p < 0.05).  BIA significantly correlated with DXA (r = 0.71, p < 0.05) for BF% and yielded a SEE of 4.21%.  The limits of agreement (i.e., 95% confidence intervals) for BF% ranged from 10.2% below to 6.4% above the mean difference of -1.9%.  The mean FFM (+/- SD) determined by DXA was 46.2 ± 6.1 kg and by HF-BIA was 47.5 ± 6.0 kg, which was also significantly different (p < 0.05). BIA significantly correlated with DXA (r = 0.89, p < 0.001) for FFM with a SEE of 2.8 kg.  The limits of agreement for FFM ranged from 4.0 kg below to 6.6 kg above the mean difference of 1.3 kg.

Conclusion: Due to significant mean differences and large individual error, BIA does not appear to serve as a suitable surrogate to DXA for evaluating BF% and FFM in collegiate female athletes. Sport practitioners should be aware of the study’s results and use caution when interpreting BIA analyses within this population. 


Women, Body Fat, Fat-Free Mass, Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry

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