Body Composition: Your Questions Answered

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MuscleSound’s Body Composition tool comfortably measures body fat and lean muscle mass quickly through the use of medical grade ultrasound to deliver results you can repeatedly trust to understand MuscleHealth.

How do we measure body composition?

Using the ultrasound wand, MuscleSound measures the thickness of subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) at each of the seven skinfold sites determined by the Jackson/Pollock protocol: Chest, Abdomen (“Stomach”), Thigh, Triceps (“Arm”), Subscapular (“Back”), Suprailiac (“Lower side”), Midaxillary (“Upper side”). The Jackson/Pollock protocols are one of the most frequently used and accepted prediction equations for estimating percent body fat by skinfold measures.

What is the evidence/validity for our current Body Composition protocol?

MuscleSound has been using the seven site Jackson-Pollock prediction equation to estimate body composition/percent body fat over the last 3-4 years and is confident in the validity and reliability of this methodology for a number of reasons

  • The Jackson/Pollock equations are one of the most accepted methodologies in the field.
  • Research has reported a statistically significant correlation between ultrasound, traditional skinfolds, DEXA and underwater weighing. Some studies have reported ultrasound as better correlated with DEXA than BIA and BodPod in males and females and athletes and non-athletes. Ultrasound has also been reported as more accurate than skinfold techniques in obese adolescents.
    • A recently published study (Hyde, 2016)1 used B-Mode ultrasound-measured SAT at the seven Jackson/Pollock skinfold sites to predict % Body Fat. Results were validated against a 3-compartment water (3C-W) model. The ultrasound methodology in this study essentially duplicated our MuscleSound protocol.
    • Results of the Hyde study were in agreement with the earlier work of Fanelli and colleagues (1984, 1987)2,3 who were the first to publish research demonstrating the accuracy and utility of ultrasound to assess body fat.
    • MuscleSound has also conducted our own internal validity and reliability analyses in the development of the patented algorithms used in our app

NOTE:  MuscleSound also focuses as much, or more, on the individual site measures and the changes over time vs the reported percent body fat ‘number’.

However, MuscleSound is always looking to broaden the scope and effectiveness of our body composition measures. In pursuit of this, there have been a number of conversations with interested organizations and research institutions on how ultrasound may be used to expand their existing body composition protocols, including its use in the development population-specificic prediction equations.

Cited Research

  1. Hyde, PN et al. Use of B-Mode Ultrasound as a Body Fat Estimate in Collegiate Football Players. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 30 (12) 3525 – 3530, 2016.
  2. Fanelli, MT and Kuczmarski, RJ. Ultrasound as an approach to assessing body composition. Am J Clin Nutr 39: 703–709, 1984.
  3. Kuczmarski RJ, Fanelli MT, Koch GG. Ultrasonic assessment of body composition in obese adults: overcoming the limitations of the skinfold caliper. Am J Clin Nutr. 1987 Apr;45(4):717-24.