Body Fat Measurement by Air Displacement Plethysmography: Theory, Practice, Procedures, and Applications



The importance of measuring body composition has increased because of the need to evaluate changes in nutritional status that can affect body reserves differentially. These changes can be detected only by using valid body composition measurement techniques. Air displacement plethysmography (ADP) has proved to be a valid method for determining body composition in adults and children. ADP measures body volume using a subtraction technique in which body volume equals reduction in the volume of a chamber resulting from the introduction of the individual into the chamber. There are two versions of the plethysmograph, one for adults and children, the BOD POD, and another version for infants, the PEA POD. Both versions correct the raw body volume measurement for the isothermal effect of skin on air and thoracic gas volume. The body volume is then converted to mass and density relationships for body fat and fat-free masses, and body fat percentage is calculated. In both formats, ADP has good reliability in terms of body volume and fat percentage and has been validated against three-compartment (3C) and four-compartment (4C) models. It has also been used to develop body composition prediction equations for methods like bioimpedance analysis (BIA) and anthropometry in a wide range of populations. Among other applications, ADP has been applied successfully to determine the relationship between body size and adiposity, to evaluate intervention programs based on diet or physical activity, and in athletes, to evaluate body composition changes related to training in different sports.


Body Composition Anorexia Nervosa Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry Body Volume Central Process Unit 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


2C, 3C, 4C

Two-, three-, and four-compartment models

% fat

Percentage of fat mass


Air displacement plethysmography


Bioimpedance analysis


Body mass index


Coefficient of variation


Deuterium oxide


Dual X-ray absorptiometry


Fat-free mass


Hydrostatic weighing, hydrodensitometry


Surface area artifact


Standard deviation


Standard error of the estimate



We thank the Centro de Investigacion en Alimentacion y Desarrollo (CIAD, A.C.) (Research Center for Food and Development) in Hermosillo, Mexico, for providing the equipment and facilities for the illustration of the BOD POD human measurement procedure. We specially thank Erika Ibarra and Alma Robles, for their assistance and participation in the photographic procedures, and Aida Espinosa for her assistance with drawings and graphics. We thank Cruz Teros, official photographer of the University of Sonora for taking the pictures of the BOD POD measurement procedure. We also thank Manuel Ramirez and Karen Schlosser from the Instituto de Nutricion de Centro America y Panama (Institute of Nutrition of Central America and Panama, INCAP) in Guatemala City, Guatemala, for providing the photographs of the hydrostatic weight measurement. Thanks also to Life Measurement Inc. (LMI), California, USA, for allowing us to use their images.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias Químico BiológicasUniversidad de Sonora.HermosilloMexico

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