Comparison of body fat estimates derived from underwater weight and total body water

M. I. Goran, E. T. Poehlman, E. Danforth, K. S. Nair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to compare the techniques of underwater weighing and analysis of total body water for estimating body fat with that derived from a 3-compartment model combining total body density and total body water. Body fat was estimated from: (1) body density using the Siri equation, (2) total body water assuming a hydration factor of 0.73 for fat free mass; and (3) the 3-compartment model combining body density and body water. The criterion method in this study was body fat mass determined from Siri's 3-compartment model. The subjects in this study included 10 obese men (41 ± 10 years; 115.5 ± 16.6 kg), 7 elderly men (68 ± 6 years, 77.1 ± 7.4 kg), and 18 young men (24 ± 5 years; 71.0 ± 9.2 kg). Body density was obtained by underwater weight with simultaneous determination of lung volume by helium dilution. Body water was obtained from zero-time extrapolation of isotope washout over 10-14 days following an oral dose of 2H2O and H218O. Estimates of body fat derived from total body water were significantly higher than that derived from underwater weight in the elderly (1.4 ± 1.5 kg; P < 0.05) and younger (3.0 ± 2.8 kg; P < 0.001) men. in the obese subjects. there was no significant difference in body fat estimates between the two techniques (mean difference = 1.3 ± 5.1 kg). The overestimation of body fat from total body water relative to underwater weight was negatively associated with body fat mass estimated from the 3-compartment model combining measurement of density and water (r = -0.35; P = 0.04). It is concluded that total body water overestimates body fat relative to underwater weight, and that this effect is more pronounced in leaner subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)622-626
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 12 1994


  • Adiposity
  • Age
  • Body composition
  • Density
  • Obesity
  • Total body water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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