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Few investigations have evaluated the validity of current body composition technology among racially and ethnically diverse populations. This study assessed the validity of common body composition methods in a multi-ethnic sample stratified by race and ethnicity. One hundred and ten individuals (55 % female, age: 26·5 (sd 6·9) years) identifying as Asian, African American/Black, Caucasian/White, Hispanic, Multi-racial and Native American were enrolled. Seven body composition models (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), air displacement plethysmography (ADP), two bioelectrical impedance devices (BIS, IB) and three multi-compartment models) were evaluated against a four-compartment criterion model by assessing total error (TE) and standard error of the estimate. For the total sample, measures of % fat and fat-free mass (FFM) from multi-compartment models were all excellent to ideal (% fat: TE = 0·94–2·37 %; FFM: TE = 0·72–1·78 kg) compared with the criterion. % fat measures were very good to excellent for DXA, ADP and IB (TE = 2·52–2·89 %) and fairly good for BIS (TE = 4·12 %). For FFM, single device estimates were good (BIS; TE = 3·12 kg) to ideal (DXA, ADP, IB; TE = 1·21–2·15 kg). Results did not vary meaningfully between each race and ethnicity, except BIS was not valid for African American/Black, Caucasian/White and Multi-racial participants for % fat (TE = 4·3–4·9 %). The multi-compartment models evaluated can be utilised in a multi-ethnic sample and in each individual race and ethnicity to obtain highly valid results for % fat and FFM. Estimates from DXA, ADP and IB were also valid. The BIS may demonstrate greater TE for all racial and ethnic cohorts and results should be interpreted cautiously.
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