European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 111, Issue 8, pp 1879–1887 | Cite as

Reliability and accuracy of segmental bioelectrical impedance analysis for assessing muscle and fat mass in older Europeans: a comparison with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry

  • Katharina Mally
  • Jens Trentmann
  • Martin Heller
  • Manuela Dittmar
Original Article


Segmental determination of muscle and fat mass (MM, FM) attains growing importance for judging effects of training and malnutrition in older people. This study evaluated the reliability and accuracy of segmental bioelectrical impedance analysis (sBIA) for use in older people. In 72 (40 men, 32 women) healthy elderly (mean age 69.0 ± 4.8 years), the MM and FM of right and left arm (RA, LA), right and left leg (RL, LL), and trunk were determined by sBIA (BC-418-MA, Tanita) and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) as a reference method. The sBIA provided in both sexes reliable values for limb and truncal MM and FM, except for MM of RL in women. The accuracy of sBIA displayed sex-specific bias. For MM, accurate values were noted for men’s trunk and women’s limbs (except LA). By contrast, MM was significantly underestimated in men’s limbs by 6–18% and overestimated in women’s LA (13%) and trunk (14%). Estimates of FM were accurate for men’s arms as well as women’s legs and trunk. However, FM was significantly overestimated in men’s legs (34–37%) and trunk (60%), but underestimated in women’s arms (27–35%). The proportional deviations of sBIA estimates from DXA values for limbs and trunk were significantly related to the respective MM or FM. The sBIA tends to underestimate MM in men and to overestimate in women. The reverse occurs for FM. The actual equations of the Tanita device may not completely represent the European older population and should be partly revised.


Muscle mass Fat mass Segmental bioelectrical Impedance analysis Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry Limbs Trunk 



The authors are greatly indebted to the participants for taking part in this study. They wish to thank Jutta Krause, Saedeeh Abdan and Claudia Vorderbrügge, Department of Diagnostic Radiology, University Hospital of Schleswig–Holstein, Campus Kiel, for technical assistance in DXA measurements.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharina Mally
    • 1
  • Jens Trentmann
    • 2
  • Martin Heller
    • 2
  • Manuela Dittmar
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human Biology, Zoological InstituteChristian-Albrechts-University KielKielGermany
  2. 2.Department of Diagnostic RadiologyUniversity Hospital Schleswig–Holstein Campus KielKielGermany

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