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After studying this chapter, the reader should be able to:

  • 11.1 Describe the procedures, benefits, uses, and limitations of indirect, direct, and reference methods of assessing body composition.

  • 11.2 Outline the process of a nutrition assessment and explain which components are within and outside the health professional’s scope of practice.

  • 11.3 Explain how a health professional might help to coach a client to achieve an improved body composition.


  • air displacement plethysmography (ADP) (brand name is BodPod) A device that uses the displacement of air to measure body volume and density; compare to hydrostatic weighing, which uses the displacement of water to estimate body composition.

  • android obesity Excess weight distributed mostly in the abdomen (“apple shape”).

  • bioelectrical impedance analysis An indirect measure of body composition that measures the conduction of current through muscle and fat, and inserts data into a predictive equation to estimate fat mass and lean mass.

  • body composition The proportion of fat and lean mass.

  • body density Calculated by dividing body weight by body volume; an intermediary to convert circumference measurements to body fat percentage.

  • body mass index Weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared; a proxy for measurement of body composition.

  • certified specialist in sports dietetics Working as a registered dietitian for a minimum of 2 years applying evidence-based nutrition knowledge in exercise and sports and having received a passing score on a board-certifying exam. They assess, educate, and counsel athletes and active individuals. They design, implement, and manage safe and effective nutrition strategies that enhance lifelong health, fitness, and optimal performance (definition from the Commission on Dietetic Registration,

  • decisional balance The weighing of pros and cons when considering a behavior change.

  • dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) A method of body composition assessment that maps the bone density, fat mass, and fat-free tissue mass using two low-dose x-rays from different sources that measure bone and soft tissue mass simultaneously.

  • ectomorph Body type characterized by thinness with lean muscles, fast metabolism, and difficulty gaining weight.

  • empathic statements Statements that express an attempt to understand what another person is experiencing.

  • endomorph Body type characterized by a slow metabolism and propensity to gain fat.

  • essential fat The fat required for normal body functioning including that of the brain, nerves, heart, lungs, and liver; typically 3% to 5% in men and 10% to 15% in women.

  • field methods Techniques health professionals commonly use to measure body composition.

  • food frequency questionnaire A method used to identify typical eating habits, which is composed of a checklist of foods and beverages with a section for the client to mark how often each of the listed foods are eaten.

  • food record A written report of all of the foods consumed in a pre-defined period of time, usually 3 days with at least 1 weekend day. Also includes the time of day, mood, and level of hunger when consuming each food.

  • gravitational sport A sport in which the force of gravity combined with ...

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