Archive for the 'body-fat-analysis' Category

The Struggle is Real! The Difficulties of Discussing Obesity with Your Patients

discussing-obesity-with-patients-image2Discussing weight issues with a healthcare provider can be uncomfortable; especially when you are being seen by your physician for an unrelated issue and neither party knows how to approach the topic. However; it is important for people suffering from obesity and other weight related issues to receive the proper individual treatment they need. With two-thirds of American adults being classified as overweight or obese, that conversation becomes even more vital. Being overweight increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and a slew of other medical problems. Often, people who are overweight are concerned about  their health, but find it difficult to talk about the subject. As a medical doctor you must treat your patient as a partner and speak to them in a caring matter about the subject.

Regularly checking your patient’s BMI is a great segue into discussing maintaining a do-image1healthy weight and further evaluation using body composition analysis.  It is recommended you discuss weight loss with your patient if they have a BMI of 30 or above, a BMI between 25 and 30 with additional health issues, or a waist size of 40 inches (men) or 35 inches (women)1.  While BMI is a great starting point, it doesn’t tell the whole story and can often have false positives with fit patients, false negatives with TOFI patients – leading to misdiagnosis.  Using medical body composition analyzers such as the seca mBCA 514 and mBCA 525, you can measure multiple parameters (i.e., fat and fat-free mass, skeletal muscle mass, visceral adipose tissue (VAT), intra and extra-cellular water) giving you and your patient a comprehensive look at the composition of their body.

An essential component to assist with weight discussion is the seca directprint 284 or 286.  Both offer a completely integrated system, measuring height and weight, then automatically printing a custom BMI report. The easy-to-read document outlines the nutritional condition of the patient based on her BMI and provides tips on maintaining a healthy weight.  The report takes a short time to print, fitting in the clinician’s workflow and facilitates as an ice breaker to help with bringing up the topic of weight.  If you determine that a patient needs assistance, start the conversation by listening2. For many, they may have never discussed their weight before and may even be unaware of the potential risk factors that they could be at risk for. Others may have been criticized in the past about their weight making it a sensitive subject to talk about. Its best to start from a place of empathy and even ask for permission to talk about the issue. Many healthcare providers worry about offending their patients during this discussion. The best way to be sure is to avoid passing judgement, eliciting confrontation, and giving  advice. Allow the patient to see that change is possible and educate them on the importance of measuring body composition to help with achieving realistic weight loss goals.


[1] Puhl, Rebecca, PhD. “Talking with Patients about Weight Loss: Tips for Primary Care Providers.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. National Institute of Health, Nov. 2012

2Milken Institute School of Public Health. WHY WEIGHT? A Guide to Discussing Obesity & Health With Your Patients. Washington: Milken Institute School of Public Health, 2014. StopObesityAlliance. George Washington University

Anorexia Nervosa: How Early Detection Can Save A Life

Anorexia Nervosa is a serious eating disorder that is seen in both men and women,Anorexia Nervosa Picture encompassing multiple age groups. It is characterized by these key factors; unwilling to maintain a normal body weight, irrational fear of weight gain, and a highly distorted body image1. This eating disorder stems from the fear of looking fat. This makes eating an anxiety filled, highly stressful undertaking1. Thoughts of diet and exercise will begin to consume your thoughts, taking these normal practices to an extreme and dangerous place.

Symptoms of anorexia nervosa include; cutting down food intake to lose excessive weight, obsessive compulsive behavior to prevent weight gain, poor self-esteem, and the inability to grasp the severity of the situation2. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms are difficult to detect and easy to hide. This is often the case with someone who suffers from anorexia. This eating disorder has such an overwhelming, negative effect on psychiatric well-being, that people try to hide their condition or are in complete denial. It is common for patients to wear baggy clothing to hide their slender appearance, keep weights in their pockets during physical exams, and lie about how much they’ve been eating in order to maintain control over their bodies.

It is important to keep your eyes and ears open when dealing with this disease. Adopting strict low-calorie meal plans or skipping meals altogether, covering up in layers of clothing, exerting body dysmorphia and refusing to eat in public are all red flags of anorexia3. It’s important to seek help if you notice any of these warning sights, as it can save somebody from a slew of health problems.

Most health problems related to anorexia stem from malnutrition4. Not giving your body proper nutrition can negatively effect multiple organ systems like the cardiovascular, endocrine, renal, reproductive, and metabolic just to name a few4. This can result in serious health concerns such as hypothermia, osteoporosis, hypokalemia, hyponatremia, and hypoglycemia4. The disease can be fatal as a result of health complications. It is reported that 1 in 200 women will get anorexia, 5 – 20% of these people will die from it and of half will be from suicide1.

The best way to overcome anorexia nervosa is a combination of medicine, psychotherapy, and family therapy5. A big obstacle in the fight against this disease and eating disorders in general, is identifying if someone is actually battling the disease. As mentioned earlier, people with anorexia often try to hide the fact that they even have it. Half of those with an eating disorder are diagnosed by their primary care physician6. Patients with this disorder often go to see their primary care doctor more than their peers for reasons not related to the condition6. It often takes several doctor visits before their eating disorder is recognized. Unfortunately, this delay in diagnosis can have detrimental effects on the patients health. So how can physicians pick up on anorexia before it turns fatal? Use a body composition analyzer such as the seca mBCA 514 or mBCA 525 to monitor decreased fat and muscle mass, or detect a low phase angle that may be caused by irregularities in somatic cells. These devices are proven to provide accurate measurements for a variety of parameters, giving healthcare professionals the data they need to better assess their patients. Early detection of these signs can make treatment and recovery that much easier, it can even save a life.


1Smith, Melinda, and Lawrence Robinson. “Anorexia Nervosa Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment.” Trusted Guide to Mental, Emotional & Social Health. Ed. Jeanne Segal., 15 May 2016. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

2Hamilton, Caitlin. “Anorexia Nervosa.” NEDA Feeding Hope. National Eating Disorder Association, 21 June 2014. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

3Hensrud, Donald, Jennifer Nelson, and Katherine Zeratsky. “Anorexia Nervosa.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 4 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

4Bernstein, Bettina. “Anorexia Nervosa.” Practice Essentials, Background, Pathophysiology. Ed. Caroly Pataki. MedScape, 23 May 2016. Web. 15 Aug. 2016

5Ehrlich, Steven. “Anorexia Nervosa.” University of Maryland Medical Center. VeriMed Healthcare Network, 23 Apr. 2015. Web. 15 Aug. 2016.

6Surgenor, Lois, and Sarah Maguire. “Assessment of Anorexia Nervosa: An Overview of Universal Issues and Contextual Challenges.” Journal of Eating Disorders (2013): n. pag. BioMed Central. Springer Science Business Media. Web.

The Dangers of The Female Athlete Triad

Female Athlete Triad TriangleThe Female Athlete Triad is a health concern for active females who are driven to excel in sports.  It involves three distinct and interrelated conditions:[1] energy deficiency, amenorrhea (irregular or missed menstrual cycles), and osteoporosis (weak bones) causing fractures and density irregularities1. While having just one of these components is bad enough, these conditions can often lead to a domino effect of health concerns.

tired woman runner taking a rest after running hard on city road

Women often face social and coaching pressures to stay skinny and lean for their sport, in addition to the unspoken competitiveness’ that adds pressure to be thin. This has been shown to be a major factor in the development of an eating disorder2. Eating disorders are chronic physical and psychological illnesses that require immediate attention. Anorexia and bulimia can cause death resulting from heart attack, blood electrolyte disorders, suicide, and many other conditions resulting from not eating2.

While most athletes do not fit the exact definition of an eating disorder, many follow the same habits. Binge eating and purging, starvation, and the use of diet pills will cause the person to worsen the energy deficiency condition. Participating in these deadly practices does not leave your body with enough energy to perform its normal functions, including menstruation. Any female who has missed three consecutive cycles should be evaluated immediately2. Leaving a condition like this unattended can cause infertility. It has been shown that menstruating athletes gain about 2 – 4% of bone mass per year, whereas amenorrheic athletes can lose 2% of their bone mass4. Low estrogen levels, a direct result of amenorrhea (menstrual abnormalities), can cause the deterioration of bone structure (osteoporosis)2. This comes as a direct result of lack of menses. A women in her early 20’s suffering from this condition can have a bone structure equivalent to that of a 70 year old women2.Ostheoperosis

Possibly the biggest problems physicians and specialists face when dealing with the female athlete triad is the initial diagnosis of the condition3. Ideally, screening for elements of the female athlete triad should happen at annual check ups or preparticipation screenings. It is important for female athletes to be knowledgeable about the causes and symptoms relating to the condition. Be sure to consult a primary care physician and a registered dietitian that incorporates body composition analysis into their assessment. Analyzers such as the mBCA 514 and mBCA 525 have been proven to give  precise body composition measurements that will aid healthcare professionals by providing an in-depth assessment. Parameters such a body fat, visceral adipose tissue (VAT), skeletal muscle mass and body water can be evaluated and monitored to assure that the best dietary game plan is in place.  While there may be some reluctance to seek care, it’s important to remind the athlete that medical advice and proper nutrition may enhance performance and their overall well-being.

[1]Emily Southmayd. The Female Athlete Triad. Salt Lake City: Emily Southmayd, n.d. Print.

2Annie Spencer. ACSM Information On… The Female Athlete Triad. Indianapolis: Annie Spencer, n.d. Print

3Nazem, Taraneh G., and Kathryn E. Ackerman. “The Female Athlete Triad.” Sports Health 4 July 2012: 302-11. Print.

4Gottschlich, Laura M. “Female Athlete Triad.” MedScape. Ed. Craig C. Young. WebMD LLC, 17 Dec. 2014. Web. 8 Aug. 2016.


FMI possibly more useful than BMI for rapid assessment of Metabolic syndrome

metabolic syndrome

An interesting, limited study published this year observes higher Fat Mass Index (FMI) levels appear to be independently and positively associated with the presence of Metabolic syndrome (MetS) regardless of Body Mass Index (BMI) and body fat percentage (BF%). FMI appears to be a better screening tool in prediction of the presence of metabolic syndrome than BMI and percentage of body fat in men and women.¹  Please note that due to the cross-sectional design, the study itself is not exploring a causal relationship between body composition and metabolic syndrome, and is limited in that it did not include a variety of ethnic groups in the cohort.

Along with the growing popularity and proven accuracy of bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) technology for the measurement of body composition, BMI is still widely used for the rapid assessment of obesity, and is easily calculated. However, it cannot reflect body fat mass and body fat distribution due to the differences of age, sex and ethnic groups and obese types when BMI is used alone. Although some studies [2,3] found that high BF% was associated with increased cardiovascular risk regardless of BMI whose categorization resulted in an underestimation of subjects with cardiovascular risk factors, people with the same BMI reading may have very different body composition, which may result in people with the same BMI or percentage of body fat exposing to different metabolic conditions.  Therefore, it can be better to measure and express body composition as FMI and Fat Free Mass Index (FFMI) than either BMI or BF%.

The study showed that high FMI had significantly higher odds ratio for metabolic syndrome than the low FMI in both sexes, which was similar to one previous study⁴, in which body composition was measured by DeXA. This study also showed that high FMI level was strongly associated with the presence of MetS after adjusting BMI and BF% in both men and women, and the adjusted odds ratios of the risk of MetS were higher than that of BMI and BF.


 ¹Liu, Pengju et al. “The Utility of Fat Mass Index vs. Body Mass Index and Percentage of Body Fat in the Screening of Metabolic Syndrome.”

BMC Public Health 13 (2013): 629. PMC. Web. 1 June 2016.

 ²Zeng Q, Dong SY, Sun XN, Xie J, Cui Y. Percent body fat is a better predictor of cardiovascular risk factors than body mass index. Braz J Med Biol Res. 2012;45:591–600. doi: 10.1590/S0100-879X2012007500059.

³Cho YG, Song HJ, Kim JM, Park KH, Paek YJ, Cho JJ, Caterson I, Kang JG. The estimation of cardiovascular risk factors by body mass index and body fat percentage in Korean male adults. Metabolism. 2009;58:765–771. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2009.01.004.

Wang J, Rennie KL, Gu W, Li H, Yu Z, Lin X. Independent associations of body-size adjusted fat mass and fat-free mass with the metabolic syndrome in Chinese. Ann Hum Biol. 2009;36:110–121. doi: 10.1080/03014460802585079. 

mBCA Demo at Prestigious Anschutz Health & Wellness Center at Colorado University

Anschutz Center building

Anschutz Center building

This week seca performed a demonstration for the clinical nutrition research department at the world-renowned Anschutz Center in Colorado, a top-tier health and wellness research center that also provides programs for weight loss, fitness, and innovative medical wellness protocols.  The Anschutz research staff will soon be attending the upcoming Obesity Week conference in nearby Los Angeles where seca will be an exhibitor, and plans are being made to continue discussions and socialize together at the conference in regard to additional opportunities in early 2016 for research, mBCA sales, and possibly published studies.

seca mBCA with Hologic DEXA device

seca mBCA with Hologic DEXA device

The difference between scale weight and body composition

A scale cannot distinguish the difference between a pound of muscle and a pound of fat. Understanding the needs of your patient’s bodies and the proper balance between fat-free mass and fat is essential for optimal health and fitness. The human body is composed of three main components: fat, lean body mass (muscle, bone, and organs), and water. Everyone has their own unique percentages for these components.

Obviously, as your patient loses weight, they want to lose fat and not lean body mass. A regular scale can’t describe this, but a body composition analyzer can.  Learning the percentages of what a human body is made up of is helpful when establishing a healthier lifestyle.

After a body composition analysis, what can your patients do with with their results?

The results from your patient’s body composition assessment can be used to identify risks, personalize an exercise program or evaluate how well the current exercise and nutrition program is working for them. Whether they are healthy or have room for improvement, body composition results can guide anyone in making positive changes to their current level of activity and diet.