Reference values of body composition parameters and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) by DXA in adults aged 18-81 years-results from the LEAD cohort

Alina Ofenheimer, Robab Breyer-Kohansal, Sylvia Hartl, Otto C. Burghuber, Florian Krach, Andrea Schrott, Emiel F. M. Wouters, Frits M. E. Franssen, Marie-Kathrin Breyer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Increasing attention has been drawn on the assessment of body composition phenotypes, since the distribution of soft tissue influences cardio-metabolic risk. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is a validated technique to assess body composition. European reference values from population-based cohorts are rare. Aims To provide age- and sex-related reference values of body composition parameters and visceral adipose tissue (VAT) mass, and for lean mass index (LMI) with regard to fat mass index (FMI) quantities and BMI categories. Methods GE-Lunar Prodigy DXA scans of 10.894 participants, aged 18-81 years, recruited from 2011 to 2019 by the Austrian LEAD study, a population-based cohort study, have been used to construct reference curves using the LMS method. Parameters assessed are FMI, LMI, appendicular LMI, fat mass ratios android/gynoid and trunk/limbs, and VAT. Results All lean mass and fat mass parameters indicating central fat accumulation were higher in men, whereas other fat mass indices were higher in women. LMI differed between each FMI subgroup (low vs. normal, low vs. high, normal vs. high), and BMI category in all ages and LMI increased with FMI and BMI classes. VAT mass was higher in men compared with women and increased across all age groups within both sexes. Conclusion The present study provides age- and sex-related reference values for European adults aged 18-81 years for body composition parameters and VAT mass for Lunar Prodigy DXA. In addition, this study reports LMI reference values with regard to fat mass quantities, showing a positive association with increasing FMI percentiles and BMI categories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1181-1191
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


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