Why Body Composition testing is better than your weighing scales

Why Body Composition testing is better than your weighing scales

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By Suzy Oglesby, Exercise Physiologist

At some point in our lives most of us experience a “health kick” where we get the urge to curb our eating habits and pound the pavement in the pursuit of physical perfection. It may be summer time motivating us to sculpt our beach body, or simply not quite fitting into our favourite jeans that gives us the subtle nudge that we need to drop a few kilograms.

Whilst we may initially ‘feel’ the benefits of our health kick, there is only so long we can keep going without physically seeing results.

Unfortunately for most of us our progress monitor is the trusty bathroom scale, and while our clothes seem to be loosening the scales are telling us a different tale.

At this point many people will accept defeat and resume their former ways. What we don’t know is that our health kick is actually working by changing the composition of our body i.e. our fat and muscle mass.

Muscle and fat have different densities and hence replacing the same mass of fat with muscle will not change our weight but will reduce our measurements. So while the scales didn’t necessarily lie to us they didn’t give us the bigger picture either that would have boosted our motivation to continue.

Enter the DXA body composition scan!

A DXA scan not only gives an accurate measure of body weight but also gives us valuable information about the composition of our body such as our body fat percentage, our lean tissue and bone weight. While some of the more expensive scales will give a reading of body fat percentage, their accuracy is significantly affected by our ever changing hydration levels. In addition their methods involve calculations rather than absolute measurements of the different tissues that make up our body.

Traditionally underwater weighing was seen as the most accurate method of determining body fat. However in recent years the DXA body composition scan has become the gold standard.

DXA scans are unique in that they employ a 3 tissue (muscle, fat and bone) system of body composition assessment, unlike most other methods which use a 2 tissue model (muscle and fat). While the DXA scan does involve radiation, the levels are extremely low – in fact you will get more radiation from a flight across the country than you will from the scan.

So the next time you hear the fitness fairy knocking on your door, book in at BJC Health for a DXA body composition scan and stay on track this time. 


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