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Phenotyping in clinical nutrition

Digital anthropometric evaluation of young children: comparison to results acquired with conventional anthropometry



Three-dimensional optical (3DO) imaging devices for acquiring anthropometric measurements are proliferating in healthcare facilities, although applicability in young children has not been evaluated; small body size and movement may limit device accuracy. The current study aim was to critically test three commercial 3DO devices in young children.


The number of successful scans and circumference measurements at six anatomic sites were quantified with the 3DO devices in 64 children, ages 5–8 years. Of the scans available for processing, 3DO and flexible tape-measure measurements made by a trained anthropometrist were compared.


Sixty of 181 scans (33.1%) could not be processed for technical reasons. Of processed scans, mean 3DO-tape circumference differences tended to be small (~1–9%) and varied across systems; correlations and bias estimates also varied in strength across anatomic sites and systems (e.g., regression R2s, 0.54–0.97, all p < 0.01). Overall findings differed across devices; best results were for a multi-camera stationary system and less so for two rotating single- or dual-camera systems.


Available 3DO devices for quantifying anthropometric dimensions in adults vary in applicability in young children according to instrument design. These findings suggest the need for 3DO devices designed specifically for small and/or young children.

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Fig. 1: Scan image errors present on a representative avatar produced by the Size Stream SS20 scanner.
Fig. 2: Circumferences estimated by the Fit3D Proscanner versus circumference tape measurements and associated Bland–Altman plots.
Fig. 3: Circumferences estimated by the Size Stream SS20 versus circumference tape measurements and associated Bland–Altman plots.
Fig. 4: Circumferences estimated by the Styku S100 versus circumference tape measurements and associated Bland–Altman plots.


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This work was partially supported by National Institutes of Health NORC Center Grants P30DK072476, Pennington/Louisiana, P30DK040561, Harvard, and R01DK109008, Shape UP! Adults; the Louisiana State University Biomedical Collaborative Research Program; and the National Science Foundation I-Corps program.

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Authors’ contributions to manuscript: SK, MW, JS, and SBH designed research; SK, BS, SS, MED, NK, and MW conducted research; JS and SBH provided essential materials; SK, BS, MW, JS, and SBH analyzed data; SK, BS, SS, MED, MW, JS, NK, and SBH wrote the paper; SK, BS, SS, MED, MW, JS, NK, and SBH had primary responsibility for final content.

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Correspondence to Steven B. Heymsfield.

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Kennedy, S., Smith, B., Sobhiyeh, S. et al. Digital anthropometric evaluation of young children: comparison to results acquired with conventional anthropometry. Eur J Clin Nutr 76, 251–260 (2022).

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