Intraindividual Variability in Test-Retest Air Displacement Plethysmography Measurements of Body Density for Men and Women

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Air displacement plethysmography (ADP) is a popular method for estimating body density (Db). Most ADP tests are performed once, with test-retest investigations scarce. Therefore, we investigated test-retest reliability of ADP. Active men (n = 25) and women (n = 25) volunteered and followed standard pretest guidelines. Participants wore dry, form-fitting swimwear and manufacturer-supplied swim caps. In a single session, two ADP trials with measured thoracic gas volume (TGV) were performed without repositioning participants. Separate 2 (sex) × 2 (ADP trial) repeated-measures ANOVAs were performed to investigate within-between comparisons of Db, TGV, body volume (Vb), and relative fatness (%BF). Paired t tests were used to investigate significant differences as appropriate. The Bland and Altman technique was used to depict individual intertrial variations. For all analyses, α =.05. A significant main effect for sex was found; men were lower in %BF and higher in all other variables compared with women. Individual variability was notable (ADP1–ADP2). The range of individual intertrial differences were larger for women than men, respectively, for Db (-0.0096–0.0045 g/cc; -0.0019–0.0054 g/cc), TGV (-0.623–1.325 L; -0.584–0.378 L), Vb (-0.249–2.10 L; -0.234–0.397 L), and %BF (-2.1–4.4%; -0.2–0.9%). When assessing body composition of women via ADP or using Db from ADP in a multicomponent model, at least two trials with measured TGV should be performed and the average of the values recorded and reported.

The authors are with the Dept. of Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM.

Address author correspondence to Ann L. Gibson at