Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Body Composition of Bangladeshi Children: Comparison and Development of Leg-to-Leg Bioelectrical Impedance Equation

Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Body Composition of Bangladeshi Children: Comparison and Development of Leg-to-Leg Bioelectrical Impedance Equation

Article excerpt


Body composition measurement in children is important for assessing nutritional status for both health and disease (1). Determination of body fatness by measuring body composition in younger age-groups has been shown to be an important risk factor for later disease (2,3). A study undertaken by Yajnik (4) in India compared full-term babies born in India with those born in the UK and found that Indian babies were relatively lighter, shorter, and thinner. The thinness of the Indian babies is related to a paucity of lean soft tissues, including abdominal viscera and skeletal muscle. The characteristic South Asian body phenotype, which comprises low muscle mass, high percentage of body fat, and tendency to central adiposity, is different from that in other populations (5,6). A better characterization of body proportions and composition during early life may be of relevance for improved understanding of the early origins of diseases in adulthood, and hence, the need for accurate assessment of body composition in children. Various established methods are used for body composition assessment, including air-displacement plethysmography (ADP), dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA), underwater weighing (densitometry), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (7,8). However, these methods are expensive, not easily portable, time-consuming, and require highly-trained operators, which renders them unsuitable for most field settings.

In epidemiological and field studies, predictions of body fatness are often made from anthropometric measurements, including body mass index (BMI), waist-circumference, waist-hip ratio, and skinfold thickness. However, these techniques do not precisely characterize body fat or muscle mass, and there is a variation across age, sex, and ethnic groups (9,10). Further disadvantages of these techniques include a high degree of both intra- and inter-observer variation and acceptability of the measures in different populations (11).

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is a popular and widely-used method of measuring body composition (12). BIA actually determines the electrical impedance of body tissues, which provides an estimate of total body water (TBW) that is converted to an estimate of fat-free mass (FFM), with assumed constant values for the hydration of lean tissue (13,14). BIA is a portable, non-invasive, rapid and relatively inexpensive method for assessing body composition, which lends itself to applications in epidemiological studies. Various BIA machines are available, including the leg-to-leg Tanita TBF-300A analyzer (Tanita Corporation, Tokyo, Japan) (15,16), which measures lower-body impedance as the individual stands on a bathroom-like scale. Although this leg-to-leg BIA differs from traditional arm-to-leg BIA devices, evidence suggests it provides similar body composition measurements to those by the arm-to-leg method (17). The in-built prediction equations used by the Tanita TBF 300A are mainly developed for Caucasian populations, and their validity is questioned when applied to other ethnic groups (18). Different BIA models have been used extensively among various age-groups, and several prediction equations have been developed, though not for the TBF-300A (18-20) and very few for South Asian populations (21).

Thus, there is a need for a valid equation for measuring FFM in Bangladeshi children. Deuterium oxide dilution technique is a safe, non-invasive method that can be used in all population groups, including pregnant women and children (22,23). Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the accuracy of the Tanita TBF 300A leg-to-leg bioimpedance analyzer in Bangladeshi children and, if necessary, to develop a novel prediction equation for estimation of fat-free mass (FFM), using the deuterium dilution technique as the reference method.


Study site

The study was conducted in Matlab, a poor rural subdistrict located 53 km southeast of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. …

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