Assessment of Regional Body Composition Changes by Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry

  • Karl E. Friedl
  • James A. Vogel
  • Louis J. Marchitelli
  • Sherryl L. Kubel
Part of the Basic Life Sciences book series (BLSC, volume 60)


There is little information on the differential catabolism of ann and leg tissue during intensive work by healthy individuals in a hypocaloric setting (e.g. wrestlers during their competitive season, soldiers on a long-range mission, and refugees fleeing their homes). Most available information about tissue catabolism comes from studies of hospitalized patients where this information is of prognostic importance. In severely ill patients the extreme weight loss transcends more subtle differences of which extremities dematerialize most rapidly. In this case, anthropometric indices such as an upper arm girth corrected for subcutaneous fat are useful indicators of a patient’s overall fat-free mass and/or protein nutritional status.1 In healthy individuals with weight loss severe enough to include a significant portion of the fat-free mass, regional changes may be less suitable predictors of overall fat-free mass or muscular strength deficits. The 1950 Minnesota study of semistarvation (in a relatively sedendary state) demonstrated differences in the loss of tissue between arms and legs, with the largest relative change in circumference and cross-sectional area of the arm, even though the largest absolute change occurred in the thigh.2 Presumably, it would be adaptive for hunter-gatherers in lean times to preferentially sacrifice strength of arm muscles over that of the leg muscles.


Hypocaloric Diet Army Research Institute Large Relative Change Extreme Weight Loss Tissue Catabolism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl E. Friedl
    • 1
  • James A. Vogel
    • 1
  • Louis J. Marchitelli
    • 1
  • Sherryl L. Kubel
    • 1
  1. 1.Occupational Physiology DivisionU.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental MedicineNatickUSA

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