Impact of total body water fluctuations on estimation of body fat from body density

Joy C. Bunt, Timothy G. Lohman, Richard A. Boileau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


The purpose was to investigate the possibility that variability in body weight in females due to water retention causes differences in body density (Db) values determined by hydrostatic weighing (HW). Determination of total body water (TBW) and Db were concurrently measured in seven females who experienced considerable fluctuations in body weight (1.5-4.5 kg) and seven males, ages 19-24. Females were measured when they felt they were at their lowest (LO) and highest (HI) body weights (BW) during a menstrual cycle. Males were randomly tested approximately 3 wk apart. Mean values of selected variables were compared in the LO vs HI testing sessions by paired t-tests. Significant mean differences were found in the females (P < 0.01) for the following variables: BW (kg) (LO = 58.9, HI = 61.1), Db ( (LO = 1.0430, HI = 1.037), and percent body fat (%BF) as determined by HW alone (LO = 24.8%, HI = 27.6%). Variables significant at the P < 0.05 level were TBW(l) (LO = 33.6, HI = 35.1) and %TBW of the fat-free body (LO = 74.5, HI = 75.9). However, changes in TBW could not entirely account for observed changes in Db. Only mean BW (kg) was significant (P < 0.01) in the males (LO = 74.3, HI = 74.6). It is concluded that changes in TBW can in part result in significantly different Db values obtained from HW in females who did experience perceptible changes in BW during a menstrual cycle. The remaining differences may be due to changes in fat and protein content or methodological errors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-100
Number of pages5
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1989
Externally publishedYes


  • Body composition
  • Body density
  • Deuterium oxide
  • Hydrostatic weighing
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Total body water

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


Dive into the research topics of 'Impact of total body water fluctuations on estimation of body fat from body density'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this