As Americans Become More Overweight, They Seek High Tech Answers: DXA Body Composition Assessment
By David L. Parker PhD
The Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC), has determined that obesity has become a major health problem in the United States. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey states that of the American population, 1/3 are of a healthy weight, 1/3 are overweight and beyond that 1/3 are obese. The CDC estimates that people who are overweight or obese have increased health risks such as Type 11 Diabetes, Coronary Artery Disease, Stroke, Hypertension, Fatty Liver Disease, Gall Bladder Disease, Osteoarthritis, Sleep Apnea, Certain Cancers, Complications of Pregnancy and also Menstrual Irregularities.
The first step many individuals are taking is finding out exactly how much fat they are dealing with and a desire to know if their bodily fat distribution is a health risk factor for them. Many have sought getting their body fat tested, but have been discouraged by the humiliation of getting their fat pinched or dressing down into a swim suit and getting weighed in a water tank. And if they submit to these tests they question the accuracy of the numbers and the incomplete story that is told by these older testing methods.
Many individuals are seeking a better way to be evaluated that gives them the precise information that they need to begin to make changes in their life; one that gives them more than a general whole body number, and one that does not sacrifice self esteem. In today’s high tech world, DXA SCAN Body Composition Testing has become their answer. DXA yields fast, clinically accurate and comprehensive information that lets you know your bodily fat content and percent fat, the distribution of bodily fat, and a baseline for a nutritional and physical activity intervention program.
With DXA there is: No dunking in water; No holding your breath; No bathing suit; No swim cap; No pinching of fat, No sitting in a claustrophobic egg chamber; No more false results. With DXA, you just lie still for 6 minutes on a platform table, fully dressed, while the scanner moves over your body, and you get clinically accurate Body Composition results. Not only will you know your overall percent fat, but you get a 3 Point Assessment of Bone, Muscle and Fat for each arm, each leg, your trunk, and even where you store fat. You’ll know how much fat is stored around your middle and hips, being able to delineate health risk. And if that is not enough, the DXA Scan also provides color imaging of your body, showing skeletal bone, lean muscle and fat, while even having the capability of delineating your bone density health ratings. DXA Scan Body Composition analysis is now becoming more readily accessible and affordable in many communities across the U.S.
With its unsurpassed clinical accuracy, along with its ability to define each area of the body, a person undertaking subsequent exams, can see exactly where fat is being lost (or gained) and muscle gained (or lost). With the DXA results, many centers can detail Ideal Weight, and Fat / Weight Loss Goals. Precise DXA Body Composition data can yield accurate estimation of Calorie Energy Expenditures (Basal and Resting) and Activity Calories.
Typically, people who self -refer themselves for a DXA Scan Body Composition, may be starting a diet, health improvement or fitness program. They have a desire to know their true body composition values, what their ideal weight should be and how many pounds they should lose. Also those who would want this test are interested in knowing their calorie expenditures (basal, resting, and exercise), while understanding what their calorie intake should be based upon your body composition.
DXA, typically, is so accurate and reproducible, that it is used in many other clinical and research settings. The application of DXA to Body Composition is relatively new, as this technology has historically been used for bone scans to clinically assess bone density for diagnosing Osteoporosis and Osteopenia. DXA is superior to all other body composition methods because of its accuracy, reliability and comprehensive data set, including Bodily Stored Fat Distribution as it relates to health risks.
DXA (also known as DEXA) Body Composition uses Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry. It works by passing 2 different energies through the tissues of the body. The DXA is safe and harmless, as it emits extremely low dose radiation which is less than the background radiation exposure of a plane trip from Seattle to Denver, or working outdoors in the sun for a day.
DXA Scan X-ray services are not generally offered in Health Clubs, or Fitness Centers. DXA is medically accredited by individual State Departments of Health, requiring state registration of DXA X-Ray Technicians and Medical Certification of the DXA Unit itself. DXA Body Composition services are generally found in Sports Medicine Clinics, Medical Fitness Centers, Imaging Centers and Hospitals.
You want to look for DXA being offered by groups that have been professionally involved in assessment of Body Composition Assessment for many years and have worked with thousands of patients. Also, some DXA Machines are low resolution and may have less accuracy and provide poor imagining quality. You may want to ask about this and actually see a sample report before you undergo the DXA. You will also want to find one that you can self refer to, rather than one that requires referral from a physician. Health Insurance does not pay for or reimburse for Body Composition assessments regardless of method. The cost of a DXA Body Composition Scan can typically vary between $125 and $300.
About The Author: David L, Parker PhD is the author of this article and has been involved with performing Tens of Thousands of Body Composition Evaluations for almost 40 years. He was the early originator of Whole Body Plethysmography use for Body Composition with Eric Jaeger Inc. of Germany. This technology is now used by Bod Pod. He is a Physiologist and is CEO of The Washington Institute of Sports Medicine, which utilizes the newest Hologic DXA Discovery W System for Advanced Body Composition Analysis. According to Dr. Parker, the Hologic Advanced Body Composition System is the Gold Standard for accuracy and digital imaging quality. Hologic invented the DXA Technology