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Influence of Biological and Technical Variability on Physique Assessment Methods


17 Aug 2015


Ava Kerr, Manager of Health, Sport and Exercise Science Facilities at the University of the Sunshine Coast


This talk outlined a series of studies that explored the impact of athlete presentation and technical skills on the reliability of a range of physique assessment methods in isolation as well as in combination. A better understanding of the factors which influence these methods will aid in the development of standardised protocols to minimise measurement error.

  • Study 1 compared the deuterium oxide method (D2O) with bioelectrical impedance spectroscopy (BIS) to assess if it was a valid device for assessing total body water in large muscular males.  It was then substituted into a multi-compartment model of physique assessment to test the improvement of the accuracy of measurement for percentage body fat.
  • Study 2 explored the impact of using a new standardised protocol incorporating Styrofoam positioning pads with regard to reliability of regional and whole body composition assessment using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA).
  • Study 3 identified the impact of exercise, food and fluid intake, and time of day on the reliability of physique assessment methods that measured fat mass (FM) and fat free mass (FFM). The impact of these variables was assessed when data from techniques were combined to infer body composition using methods that measured rather than assumed traits such as bone mass and TBW content.
  • Study 4 explored the impact of athlete presentation on the interpretation of physique change after six months of self-selected training and diet using multi-compartment methods.


Ava is the Manager of Health, Sport and Exercise Science Facilities at the University of the Sunshine Coast. She leads a technical services team to support the delivery of teaching programs and research activities in a range of disciplines including sport and exercise science, nutrition and dietetics, occupational therapy, paramedic science and education.

Ava is the USC Radiation Safety Officer and maintains quality assurance and control for the University’s Lunar DPX and iDXA machines. She maintains accreditation with the National Sport Science Quality Assurance Program (NSSQA) in association with the Australian Institute of Sport and is in the final year of her PhD, under the supervision of Dr Gary Slater and Professor Nuala Byrne.

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