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Chapter: Introduction to Human Nutrition: Body Composition

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Total body electrical conductivity - Body composition techniques

The principle of the method is that conductive material (body water and dissolved electrolytes) that is placed in an electromagnetic field will cause an inductive current, which is related to the amount of conductive material.

Total body electrical conductivity

Total body electrical conductivity (TOBEC) was developed in the 1970s. The principle of the method is that conductive material (body water and dissolved electrolytes) that is placed in an electromagnetic field will cause an inductive current, which is related to the amount of conductive material. In practice, the subject lies on a stretcher, which enters the inner space of an electric wire coil, through which a high-frequency current (2.5–5 MHz) passes. The measurement is very quick (it takes only seconds), painless, and without any risk to the subject. The reproducibility of a mea-surement is within 2% and the error in the predicted FFM was found to be about 3 kg in a group of adult subjects, which is similar to, for example, skinfold thickness measurements or impedance measurements. The TOBEC method is especially suitable for mea-surements in infants and young children, in whom bioelectrical impedance measurements are difficult or impossible to perform, owing to movement. The main disadvantage of the method is the high price.


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