You wouldn’t buy a used car without going through inspection, nor would you select a bottle without a label to serve your dinner guests. The same is true of our bodies. To understand the composition of your body is to know what is happening inside. Are your organs and muscles functioning efficiently? Are you properly processing your vitamins, proteins and minerals? Are you aware of any red flags that could cause problems down the road? The body composition test is a key indicator doctors use to get a better picture of what your body is made of and what they can do to help you ensure your body is operating optimally. If your doctor recommends a body composition test, here is what you can expect.
What is Body Composition?
Simply put, body composition describes what your body is made up of by providing a better understanding of the body’s percentage of fats, muscles, water and bones. Depending on which test your doctor recommends, you will be better able to understand how your body composition impacts certain key areas of your health and well being. Using the results of your test, medical professionals can tailor specific treatments and regimens to gauge and improve your health. Tests they may recommend include:
- Body Mass Index – BMI – is used to measure body fat based on one’s height and weight. By entering one’s height and weight into a BMI calculator, one can quickly know if they are considered overweight and how much they would have to lose to be considered in a healthy, normal range. BMI however is not a good diagnostic tool to measure fat or overall health; most often it is used to categorize average people into general categories.
- Skinfold Calipers – also known as the pinch test – involves pinching the subcutaneous layer of fat at predetermined sites around the body, then measuring the thickness of the pinched area with a caliper.
- Hydrostatic Weighing. The ancient Greeks had the right idea. Hydrostatic (underwater) weighing applies Archimedes’ principle that an object displaces its own volume of water. Fast forward to modern times: hydrostatic body composition analysis measures the mass per unit volume of a living person’s body and is recognized as the gold standard for determining body composition.
- Air Displacement Plethysmography – ADP – determines the volume of the human body by measuring the amount of air according to the changes in pressure in an enclosed chamber. ADP is based on Boyle’s Law, which means that at a constant temperature, volume and pressure are inversely related.
- Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) is a highly accurate imaging method that determines body composition of bones, body fat, and muscle mass.
Why Know Your Body Composition
Knowing these tests exist is one thing, but why would a doctor recommend them? Actually, body composition tests can serve a number of purposes. For example, they can provide a very realistic view of your body, and even provide peace of mind, as would be the case of a highly tuned athlete. While his weight might be more than it should be for his height as determined by a body mass index, the amount of muscle may far exceed that of fat, meaning that person is of a healthy weight for his height. Knowing your body composition may inspire you to achieve your goals, or serve as an indicator that your goals have been met. Likewise, if you are thin, you may be lacking muscle or healthy bone. Measuring your body composition can help determine your health risks, treatment programs, and potential cures.
Wooster Community Hospital
It’s never too late to start taking care of your body, and knowing your body composition is a good first step. Wooster Community Hospital is at your service, aiming to deliver the very best healthcare to the patients and communities they serve. We aim to provide accessible healthcare by making sure all services are patient-centered, cost-effective, and outcome driven. If you want to know your body composition or are interested in any other diagnostic tests, make an appointment by calling (330) 263-8660.