Digital tools like 3D laser-based photonic scanners, which can assess external anthropometric measurements for population based studies, and predict body composition, are gaining in importance. Here we focus on a) systematic deviation between manually determined and scanned standard measurements, b) differences regarding the strength of association between these standard measurements and body composition, and c) improving these predictions of body composition by considering additional scan measurements.
We analysed 104 men aged 19–23. Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis was used to estimate whole body fat mass, visceral fat mass and skeletal muscle mass (SMM). For the 3D body scans, an Anthroscan VITUSbodyscan was used to automatically obtain 90 body shape measurements. Manual anthropometric measurements (height, weight, waist circumference) were also taken.
Scanned and manually measured height, waist circumference, waist-to-height-ratio, and BMI were strongly correlated (Spearman Rho>0.96), however we also found systematic differences. When these variables were used to predict body fat or muscle mass, explained variation and prediction standard errors were similar between scanned and manual measurements. The univariable predictions performed well for both visceral fat (r2 up to 0.92) and absolute fat mass (AFM, r2 up to 0.87) but not for SMM (r2 up to 0.54). Of the 90 body scanner measures used in the multivariable prediction models, belly circumference and middle hip circumference were the most important predictors of body fat content. Stepwise forward model selection using the AIC criterion showed that the best predictive power (r2 up to 0.99) was achieved with models including 49 scanner measurements.
The use of a 3D full body scanner produced results that strongly correlate to manually measured anthropometric measures. Predictions were improved substantially by including multiple measurements, which can only be obtained with a 3D body scanner, in the models.