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Validation of fan beam dual energy x ray absorptiometry for body composition assessment in adults aged 18–45 years
  1. J Norcross1,
  2. M D Van Loan2
  1. 1University of California, Davis, CA, USA
  2. 2USDA-Western Human Nutrition Research Center, University of California, Davis
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Van Loan
 One Shields Avenue, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA;


Background: Pencil beam dual energy x ray absorptiometry (DXA) has been shown to provide valid estimates of body fat (%BF), but DXA fan beam technology has not been adequately tested to determine its validity.

Objective: To compare %BF estimated from fan beam DXA with %BF determined using two and three compartment (2C, 3C) models.

Methods: Men (n  =  25) and women (n  =  31), aged 18–41 years, participated in the study. Body density, from hydrostatic weighing, was used in the 2C estimate of %BF; DXA was used to determine bone mineral content (BMC) for the 3C estimate of %BF calculated using body density and BMC (3CBMC). DXA was also used to determine %BF. Analysis of variance was used to test for significant differences in %BF between sexes and among methods.

Results: Women were significantly shorter, weighed less, had less fat free mass, and a higher %BF than men. No significant differences were found among methods (2C, 3CBMC, DXA) for determination of %BF in either sex. Although not significant, Bland-Altman plots showed that DXA gave higher values for %BF than the 2C and 3CBMC methods.

Conclusion: DXA determination of %BF was not different from that of the 2C and 3CBMC models in this group of young adults. However, to validate fan beam DXA fully as a method for body composition assessment in a wide range of individuals and populations, comparisons are needed that use a 4C model with a measure of total body water and BMC.

  • %BF, percentage body fat
  • BFLM, bone free lean mass
  • BMC, bone mineral content
  • BMD, bone mineral density
  • DXA, dual energy x ray absorptiometry
  • FFM, fat free mass
  • FM, fat mass
  • HW, hydrostatic weighing
  • TBW, total body water
  • fan beam dual energy x ray absorptiometry
  • body fat
  • multicompartment model
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