Quad Cities, IL/IA

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What Have You Got to Lose?


By Rachel Smith, ARNP, Weight Management at The Group Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists

Already planning for swimsuit weather? Perhaps you just completed your annual check-up with your physician and received some worrying health news. Just as there are many different motivations for weight loss, there are many different methods for determining body fat and the amount of excess weight an individual is carrying. No matter your motivation, having an accurate assessment of how much weight you have got to lose can help you set realistic goals and make a plan to move toward them.

Body fat measurement methods vary in their cost, ease of use, and scientific validity. Generally, the cheapest and most easily obtained body fat measurement will also be the least accurate.

Calipers. This inexpensive and readily obtained device is used to pinch and measure the skin at various set points around the body such as the back of the arm, the abdomen, and the upper back. The measurements are entered into a formula to determine an individual’s body fat. Most gyms will have calipers available and most personal trainers have the experience to do a caliper measurement. So, although it is easy to get a measurement using calipers, you must keep in mind that this is the least accurate method of determining body fat percentage.

Bioelectrical impedance monitors sound fancy. They are commonly found in household weight scales and enable one to get a measurement of body fat percentage along with weight. They work by sending electrical signals through the body and measuring how quickly the signals return. Lean tissue conducts electricity more quickly than fatty tissue. It is important to know that your level of hydration can impact the accuracy of the test as can a recent meal or recent exercise. If you have this feature on your home scale, do not rely on it to be an accurate body fat percentage measurement. It might help you track trends in your percentage if you consistently measure under the same conditions regarding recent food and water intake and exercise.

Hydrostatic weighing involves being submerged completely in water. By comparing an individual’s dry-land weight with their submerged weight, the operator can then get an idea of the subject’s body density. Body composition, or percentage of lean versus fatty tissue is then extrapolated from the density information. This method, although highly accurate, is difficult to obtain as hydrostatic scales are generally only found in research facilities.

Dexa. Dual x-ray absorptiometry is one of the most highly accurate methods of determining body fat percentage. It uses the same technology that doctors use to diagnose and monitor osteoporosis. The individual being measured lays on an exam table and their body is slowly scanned from head to foot. This painless scan takes about 10 minutes and exposes the individual to less radiation than an airport security scanner. Although most insurance companies will not pay for Dexa scanning, for the purpose of determining body fat percentage, you can generally spend less than $100 to have a scan done and interpreted.

It is the accuracy, ease of use, and affordability of Dexa that drives Weight Management at The Group to recommend this method of body fat analysis to our patients. If you don’t really know how much you have got to lose, come see us at The Group. We offer a free program orientation every Wednesday evening at 6:30pm.

For new patients scheduling a consultation visit with the program director in May, Dexa scanning will be offered at a new, lower price of $49.

The Group Obstetrics & Gynecology Specialists offers a comprehensive weight management program for men and women of all ages. Call 563-355-1853, ext. 1218 or visit obgyngroup.com today to take control of your relationship with food, your weight, and many underlying health issues you may be experiencing! We cannot wait to meet you.