Upper and lower limbs composition: a comparison between anthropometry and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in healthy people

Danila Diano, Federico Ponti, Sara Guerri, Daniele Mercatelli, Michele Amadori, Maria Pilar Aparisi Gómez, Giuseppe Battista, Giuseppe Guglielmi, Alberto Bazzocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Summary: The detection of changes in lean mass (LM) distribution can help to prevent disability. This study assessed the degree of association between anthropometric measurements and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) body composition (BC) parameters of the upper and lower limbs in a healthy general population and collected DXA age- and sex-specific values of BC that can be useful to build a reference standard. Purpose: The primary aim of this study was to investigate the reliability of some widely available anthropometric measurements in the assessment of body composition (BC) at the limbs, especially in terms of muscle mass, in a large sample of healthy subjects of different age bands and sex, using fat mass (FM) and lean mass (LM) parameters derived by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) as the gold standard. The secondary aim was to collect DXA age- and sex-specific values of BC of left and right limbs (upper and lower) in a healthy Italian population to be used as reference standards. Methods: Two hundred fifty healthy volunteers were enrolled. Arm circumference (AC) and thigh circumference (ThC) were measured, and total and regional BC parameters were obtained by a whole-body DXA scan (Lunar iDXA, Madison, WI, USA; enCORE™ 2011 software version 13.6). Results: FM/LM showed only fair correlation with AC and ThC in females (r = 0.649 and 0.532, respectively); in males and in the total population, the correlation was low (r = 0.360 or lower, and p non-statistically significant). AC and ThC were not well representative of arms LM in both genders (females r = 0.452, males r = 0.530) independently of age. In general, men of all age groups showed higher values of LM and lean mass index (LMI) in both total and segmental upper and lower limbs. In males, the maximum LM and LMI were achieved in the fifth decade in both upper and lower limbs and then started to decrease with aging. In females, no significant modification with aging was identified in LM and LMI. Conclusion: According to our results, anthropometry is not well representative of LM of arms in both genders, independently of age; therefore, a densitometric examination should be considered for a correct assessment of BC at limbs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number78
JournalArchives of Osteoporosis
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Anthropometry
  • Body composition
  • Limbs
  • Muscle, Skeletal
  • Sarcopenia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Upper and lower limbs composition: a comparison between anthropometry and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in healthy people'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this