Next-generation smart watches to estimate whole-body composition using bioimpedance analysis: accuracy and precision in a diverse, multiethnic sample


Elsevier, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition



Research Areas



Novel advancements in wearable technologies include continuous measurement of body composition via smart watches. The accuracy and stability of these devices are unknown.
This study evaluated smart watches with integrated bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) sensors for their ability to measure and monitor changes in body composition.
Participants recruited across BMIs received duplicate body composition measures using 2 wearable bioelectrical impedance analysis (W-BIA) model smart watches in sitting and standing positions, and multiple versions of each watch were used to evaluate inter- and intramodel precision. Duplicate laboratory-grade octapolar bioelectrical impedance analysis (8-BIA) and criterion DXA scans were acquired to compare estimates between the watches and laboratory methods. Test-retest precision and least significant changes assessed the ability to monitor changes in body composition.
Of 109 participants recruited, 75 subjects completed the full manufacturer-recommended protocol. No significant differences were observed between W-BIA watches in position or between watch models. Significant fat-free mass (FFM) differences (P < 0.05) were observed between both W-BIA and 8-BIA when compared to DXA, though the systematic biases to the criterion were correctable. No significant difference was observed between the W-BIA and the laboratory-grade BIA technology for FFM (55.3 ± 14.5 kg for W-BIA versus 56.0 ± 13.8 kg for 8-BIA; P > 0.05; Lin’s concordance correlation coefficient = 0.97). FFM was less precise on the watches than DXA {CV, 0.7% [root mean square error (RMSE) = 0.4 kg] versus 1.3% (RMSE = 0.7 kg) for W-BIA}, requiring more repeat measures to equal the same confidence in body composition changes over time as DXA.
After systematic correction, smart-watch BIA devices are capable of stable, reliable, and accurate body composition measurements, with precision comparable to but lower than that of laboratory measures. These devices allow for measurement in environments not accessible to laboratory systems, such as homes, training centers, and geographically remote locations.

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