Bioelectrical impedance analysis

The Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) method is a affordable way to estimate body fat percentage.

The general principle behind BIA: two conductors are attached to a person's body and a small electrical charge is sent through the body. The resistance between the conductors will provide a measure of body fat, since the resistance to electricity varies between adipose, muscular and skeletal tissue.

Fat-free mass (muscles) is a good conductor as it contains a large amount of water (approximately 73%) and electrolytes, unlike fat which is anhydrous and a poor conductor of electrical current. Factors that affect the accuracy and precision of this method include instrumentation, subject factors, technician skill, and the prediction equation formulated to estimate the Fat Free Mass. Criticism of this methodology is based on where the conductors are placed on the body; typically they are placed on the feet, with the current sent up one leg, across the abdomen and down the other leg.

As technician error is minor, factors such as eating, drinking and exercising must be controlled since hydration level is an important source of error in determining the flow of the electrical current to estimate body fat.

As men and women store fat differently around the abdomen and thigh region, the results can be less accurate as a measure of total body fat percentage. Another variable that can affect the amount of body fat this test measures the amount of liquid an individual has consumed before the test. As electricity travels more easily through water, a person who has consumed a large amount of water before the test will measure as a lower body fat percentage. Less water will increase the percentage of body fat. All that being said, The BIA is a good way to track progress for weight loss.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis is available in our hospital as part of our weight loss program.

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