DXA-assessed changes in body composition in obese women following two different weight loss programs

Federico Ponti, Valentina Soverini, Andrea Plazzi, Maria Pilar Aparisi Gómez, Daniele Mercatelli, Giuseppe Guglielmi, Giuseppe Battista, Giulio Marchesini, Alberto Bazzocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective Changes in body composition during weight loss programs might have a significant effect on long-term results. The aim of this study was to test these changes by dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in obese women enrolled into two different weight loss medical programs. Methods We prospectively studied 71 women assigned to either an intensive 3-mo cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or a 1-mo nutritional counseling plan (NCP). All patients underwent DXA whole-body scan before treatment and after 3, 6, and 12 mo. Fat mass (FM), non-bone lean mass (LM) and bone mineral content were assessed at whole-body and regional levels. Android visceral adipose tissue (VAT) also was estimated. Results Twenty-three patients missed one or more follow-up controls and were excluded from the final analysis. Twenty-seven patients (body mass index [BMI] 41.9 ± 6.7 kg/m2) remained in the CBT group and 21 (BMI 33.4 ± 4 kg/m2) in the NCP group. The progressive decrease of BMI in both groups was associated with reduced whole-body and regional FM, which was more marked in CBT. During follow-up, a progressive decrease of total FM-to-LM and android FM-to-LM ratios were observed both in CBT (Δ12-mo versus baseline −7.8 ± 9.6% and −9.5 ± 12.7%, respectively; P < 0.01) and NCP (Δ12-mo versus baseline −5.9 ± 9.6% and −7 ± 13.4%, respectively; P < 0.05). VAT was the parameter showing the largest decrease (−14.2 ± 17.4% and −11.3 ± 18.2% at 12 mo, respectively in CBT and NCP; P < 0.05). Conclusions Lifestyle-induced weight loss is associated with selective changes in body composition parameters, regardless of initial BMI and treatment program, limiting sarcopenic obesity. DXA may quantify the metabolically healthier redistribution of total and regional FM and VAT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-19
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2018


  • absorptiometry
  • Body composition
  • Body fat distribution
  • DXA
  • Obesity
  • Photon
  • Weight loss

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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