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The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness 2011 March;51(1):95-102

language: English

Hazards of hydrodensitometry

Clarys J. P. 1, Scafoglieri A. 1, Provyn S. 1, Sesboüé B. 2, Van Roy P. 1

1 Experimental Anatomy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Brussels, Belgium;
2 Institut Régional de Médecine du Sport, Université de Caen, Caen, France


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The limitations of the two-component model of body composition have been investigated extensively in the past resulting in a clear message of violation of basic assumptions underlying its use. This strong message may or may not be appropriate, since hydrodensitometry is still used, in particular in sports sciences. The combination of novel information with previously described indicators should allow to confirm or reject the pretended violation of basic assumptions underlying the use of hydrodensitometry. Water content of adipose tissue (AT) and of AT free mass as opposed to fat and fat free mass, and bone density of separate bones was obtained from the Brussels Cadaver Analysis Study collection. Analysis of different studies indicated anomalies up to -12% fat but also suggests that the borderline between chemical and morphological interpretations becomes vague and the ad hoc terminology does not reflect reality. Predicted % body fat using different methods on the same individual ranges between 9.6% up to 21% of AT. Total body water of separate tissues suggests intra-and intervariability within tissues. Whole skeleton density and the separate bone density cannot support the two-component constancy (1.164 g/mL to 1.570 g/mL).

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jclarys@vub.ac.be