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Measuring body composition


Several aspects of body composition, in particular the amount and distribution of body fat and the amount and composition of lean mass, are now understood to be important health outcomes in infants and children. Their measurement is increasingly considered in clinical practice; however, paediatricians are often unsure as to which techniques are appropriate and suitable for application in specific contexts. This article summarises the pros and cons of measurement technologies currently available for paediatric application. Simple techniques are adequate for many purposes, and simple regional data may often be of greater value than “whole body” values obtained by more sophisticated approaches.

  • BIA, bioelectric impedance analysis
  • BMI, body mass index
  • DXA, dual energy x ray absorptiometry
  • FFM, fat-free mass
  • FM, fat mass
  • TBW, total body water
  • WC, waist circumference
  • fat mass
  • lean mass
  • fat distribution

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    BMJ Publishing Group Ltd and Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health