Reproducibility and validity of bioimpedance spectroscopy for tracking changes in total body water: Implications for repeated measurements

Jordan R. Moon, Jeffrey R. Stout, Abbie E. Smith, Sarah E. Tobkin, Christopher M. Lockwood, Kristina L. Kendall, Jennifer L. Graef, David H. Fukuda, Pablo B. Costa, Matt S. Stock, Kaelin C. Young, Patrick S. Tucker, Eonho Kim, Trent J. Herda, Ashley A. Walter, Steven L. Ferguson, Vanessa D. Sherk, Joel T. Cramer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Bioimpedance spectroscopy (BIS) has been used to track changes in total body water (TBW). Accurate TBW estimations can be influenced by both methodological and biological factors. One methodological variation that contributes to BIS TBW errors is the electrode placement. The purpose of the present study was to compare the reproducibility and validity of fixed-distance electrode placements (5cm) with the standard single-site electrode placements. Twenty-nine subjects (fifteen men and fourteen women) participated in the reproducibility study, while sixty-nine subjects (thirty-three men and thirty-six women) participated in the validity study. The reproducibility study included two measurements that were taken 24h apart, while the validity study consisted of a 12-week exercise intervention with measurements taken at weeks 1 and 12. TBW was estimated using BIS and 2H techniques. Reproducibility results indicated that fixed-distance electrodes reduced the day-to-day standard error of the measurement in men (from 113 to 081litres) but not in women (047litres). sem values were lower for women than for men, suggesting that BIS TBW estimates are sex dependent. Validity results produced similar accurate findings (mean difference<021litres). However, fixed-distance electrodes improved delta TBW errors (mean difference improvements>004litres in men, women, and men and women combined). When tracking changes in TBW, fixed-distance electrodes may reduce reproducibility errors and allow for smaller changes to be detected. However, the reduction of reproducibility errors may be greater for men than for women. Therefore, reproducibility calculations should be based on the sex of the sample population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1384-1394
Number of pages11
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 14 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioimpedance spectroscopy
  • Body composition
  • Electrode placement
  • Exercise intervention
  • H technique
  • Reproducibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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