Body-composition analysis can give you a competitive edge in the marketplace.
If you are planning on incorporating treatment protocols and services related to metabolic management, or contemplating a move into the specialization of wellness aging, body composition analysis (BCA) should be high on your list of items to address.
Consider the current technology available to address two of the most prevalent conditions you’re likely to encounter on a daily basis in your practice.
In both metabolic syndrome (MetS) and wellness-aging specialties, you can expect to encounter a large percentage of patients presenting the symptoms of MetS—a cluster of conditions consisting of increased blood pressure, high blood-sugar levels, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol levels. The presence of one symptom by itself does not constitute MetS; however, two or more occurring together indicates an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
This condition is similar to the concept of cardiometabolic risk (CR). How do the two differ? CR is similar to MetS, but more inclusive, as it also takes into account smoking status and glucose levels in the diabetic range. As a result of this classification, the CR population is larger than that presenting MetS.
In this regard, assessment of patients by body mass index (BMI) is not enough. BMI alone is simply a correlation between height and weight which, used by itself, provides little insight into the absolute amounts of fat mass and skeletal muscle mass in the body.
When BMI isn’t meaningful
An obese person and a professional body builder, for example, could have the same BMI. The application of BMI is meaningful data when used for one of its better purposes; namely, as a statistical tool for the analysis of large populations, such as the average BMI of persons in the U.S. (the age-adjusted mean BMI nationally was 28.7 as of 2010, according to the CDC’s NHANES study)1 or predicted BMI-related healthcare costs on a population basis, as another example.
Patients are looking for new approaches to help them lose weight. Body composition analysis (BCA) provides a clinically relevant tool that provides the needed insight into fat mass, lean mass, basal metabolic rate, and other elements important for an effective treatment plan.
Patients will have a different experience if you perform body composition testing and present them with another way to stay motivated: knowing their measured baseline starting point and then tracking their progress in a weight- loss program. Patient awareness and motivation should never be under- estimated, as they can be the vital difference in a successful treatment program.
Bioelectrical impedance analysis
Accurate BCA is now far easier and practical thanks to recent advancements in bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) technology available on the market. Using tiny, imperceptible signals passing through the body from electrodes positioned on the hands and feet, a BIA device can produce measured values of fat mass, skeletal muscle mass, fat-free mass, visceral fat amount, extra-cellular and intracellular water, resting energy expenditure, and phase angle.
Depending on the device, measured values can be highly accurate, in contrast to the assumptive algorithms found both in lesser-quality devices such as consumer floor-scales that advertise BIA functions, and in devices used by health providers that lack the engineering of the more-accurate models available. The design and quality of the product can make a significant difference in the accuracy of your measurements.
Wellness-aging providers who offer some form of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) will find BCA relevant to tracking changes over time in the quantity of fat mass and lean muscle mass of patients participating in HRT.
BIA is a practical way to replace a quaternary of methods that, when used together, are considered the “gold standard” in assessment. The term describes the scientifically accepted method for determining body composition with maximum accuracy.
The actual gold standard process can take hours to conduct and be cost prohibitive, involving whole-body air displacement plethysmography (ADP), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), deuterium dilution (D2O), and sodium bromide dilution (NaBr). The correlation between BIA measurement results and the gold standard is seen as the best validation of the accuracy of a particular BIA device.
Perks for your practice
Your practice can benefit by differentiating from competitors such as fitness and diet centers. Body composition analysis can give you a competitive edge in the marketplace, as patients experience your higher level of care and science-based treatment protocols.
You can also stand out from other categories of providers, who may focus on fitness regimens, dieting and meal replacement products without reference to the patient’s actual lean mass and fat mass as a baseline. Just as importantly, you’ll be able to show patients whether their values are improving as their treatment plan progresses.
Body composition analysis using BIA tools is non-invasive, easy to administer, and provides key clinical insights relevant to treatment protocols. It can offer a compelling proposition for your business model now, or when transitioning to a new specialization in MetS or wellness aging medicine.
William Morris is product manager for seca North America in Chino, Calif. He is the principal liaison between clinical users, medical researchers, and the seca product development team and sales division throughout the U.S. and Canada. He foster the implementation of seca technology, and helps shape the development of future products. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, 800-542-7322 ext. 53, or through seca.com.
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “NHANES 2009-2010.” http://wwwn.cdc.gov/nchs/nhanes/search/nhanes09_10.aspx. Updated Dec. 2015. Accessed Dec. 2015.