Validity of total and segmental impedance measurements for prediction of body composition across ethnic population groups

P.R.M. Deurenberg, M. Deurenberg-Yap, F.J.M. Schouten

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


Methods: Anthropometric parameters were measured in addition to impedance (100 kHz) of the total body, arms and legs. Impedance indexes were calculated as height2/impedance. Arm length (span) and leg length (sitting height), wrist and knee width were measured from which body build indices were calculated. Total body water (TBW) was measured using deuterium oxide dilution. Extra cellular water (ECW) was measured using bromide dilution. Body fat percentage was determined using a chemical four-compartment model. Results: The bias of TBW predicted from total body impedance index (bias: measured minus predicted TBW) was different among the three ethnic groups, TBW being significantly underestimated in Indians compared to Chinese and Malays. This bias was found to be dependent on body water distribution (ECW/TBW) and parameters of body build, mainly relative (to height) arm length. After correcting for differences in body water distribution and body build parameters the differences in bias across the ethnic groups disappeared. The impedance index using total body impedance was better correlated with TBW than the impedance index of arm or leg impedance, even after corrections for body build parameters. Conclusions: The study shows that ethnic-specific bias of impedance-based prediction formulas for body composition is due mainly to differences in body build among the ethnic groups. This means that the use of 'general' prediction equations across different (ethnic) population groups without prior testing of their validity should be avoided. Total body impedance has higher predictive value than segmental impedance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-220
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • bioelectrical-impedance
  • mass index
  • fat
  • water
  • build


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