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Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)

What Does Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA) Mean?

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA) is a technical method in assessing body composition via comparative analysis between adipose (fat) tissue and lean body mass following a calibrated percentage rate based on independent variables that dictate its score including age, gender, height, and in some cases, body type. BIA devices are available in handheld, weight scale, and whole body impedance device formats, providing discrete test results that gauge proportionate fat mass corresponding to the extremities (i.e., arms, legs) and trunk area.

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WorkplaceTesting Explains Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)

BIA technology involves the placement of topical electrodes in which a small electrical current transmits via the water content of the body contacting fat cells, muscle cells, and skin cells that impede the voltage in the process, reflecting the distribution of body fat and lean body mass. The reliability of BIA devices is subject to erroneous measurements where an approximate value designates the whole body as having a uniform body composition failing to support accurate test results. For instance, a handheld BIA device conveys an electrical impulse from one arm to another to calculate body composition, leaving the rest of the body from the chest down to guesswork, resulting in incompatible biometric feedback.

A fundamental problem with many marketable BIA devices is its inconsistent evaluations where the fat-to-lean body mass ratio is comparatively different for men, who gain weight primarily in the midsection, while women can gain weight in the arms, legs, and stomach. However, direct segmental multi-frequency bioelectrical impedance analysis (DSM-BIA) is an advanced modality in BIA technology where the body is subdivided into five segments including the left and right extremities (arms, legs) and the trunk. This procedure furnishes a comprehensive measurement of three physiological variables including body fat percentage, lean body mass, and total body water, with the impedance rate value for each segment coinciding with a baseline formula.

Body composition often serves as a critical index in measuring a person’s health, especially in determining if an individual is a candidate for diabetes, heart disease, or stroke. For employers, workplace wellness programs can be an effective strategy in promoting healthy lifestyles among the workforce combined with reducing health care costs and workers' compensation claims. However, many employees with preexisting conditions view BIA reports and other health data as a violation of privacy often compounded by their reluctance to comply with voluntary wellness programs.

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