Review Article | Published:

Bioelectrical impedance analysis for body composition assessment: reflections on accuracy, clinical utility, and standardisation

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2018) | Download Citation

Abstract

Bioelectrical impedance analysis is an extremely popular method for assessment of body composition. Despite its wide-spread use over the past thirty years, its accuracy and clinical value is still questioned. Most frequently, criticisms focus on its purported poor absolute accuracy and that different impedance analysers or prediction equations fail to measure body composition identically. This perspective review highlights that the magnitude of errors associated with impedance methods are not dissimilar to those observed for so-called gold standard methods. It is argued that the focus on statistically significant but small differences between methods can obscure operational equivalence and that such differences may be of minor clinical significance. Finally, the need for better standardization of protocols and the need for consensus on what is a minimal clinically important difference between methods is highlighted.

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Affiliations

  1. School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD, Australia

    • Leigh C. Ward

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Conflict of interest

The author provides consultancy services to ImpediMed Ltd. ImpediMed Ltd. had no involvement in the inception or execution of this manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Leigh C. Ward.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-018-0335-3