Bod Pod provides CABNR students hands-on experience

Nutrition students learn to measure body composition in new Human Nutrition Assessment Lab

The University of Nevada, Reno's College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources has acquired new body composition technology and equipment called Bod Pod, bringing state-of-the-art technology to the new Human Nutrition Assessment Lab.

The Bod Pod provides an accurate and non-invasive method for measuring body composition which is an estimate of body fat and lean body mass. Its accuracy is comparable to more invasive methods, yet it requires only a few minutes time and little preparation for the client or patient. The Bod Pod is located in the new Human Nutrition Assessment Lab in the Sara H. Fleischmann Building on campus.

"Our goal with this lab is to develop students' skills by providing hands-on experience in using the latest, most advanced equipment available," Benedict said. "We have the opportunity to make the learning experience much more meaningful now."   

This semester, students in Benedict's Community Nutrition class were able to view and learn about the Bod Pod and other assessment equipment. In the upcoming semesters, nutrition faculty will incorporate the Bod Pod and the other resources in the lab into their courses. Eventually, the department has plans to develop a unique course on nutrition assessment.

The Bod Pod uses air displacement technology to determine body composition.  First body mass is measured using a very precise electronic scale. Then, a person's volume is measured by sitting inside the Bod Pod for several minutes. While the person sits quietly and comfortably, the amount of air displaced is measured resulting in a measure of volume.  Body density can then be calculated and the relative proportions of body fat and lean body mass are estimated.  

"To obtain accurate results using the Bod Pod, the participant must wear form-fitting clothes such as compression shorts or swimwear and a bathing cap to reduce air resistance," Benedict said.

This technology provides an alternative to hydrostatic weighing and dual energy X-rays while being just as accurate.

"Hydrostatic weighing, for example, requires patients to be submerged in water," Benedict said. "And dual energy X-ray absorptiometry emits a small amount of radiation. "These options are more invasive and may not be suitable for everyone."

CABNR's new lab is also equipped with other tools to estimate body composition such as skinfold calibers and bioelectrical impedance analyzers. Both of these can provide useful information but are not as accurate as the Bod Pod.

"Getting accurate results with skinfold calipers requires lots of practice on the part of the practitioner," Benedict said. "Bioelectrical impedance results can be inaccurate if the patient is not properly hydrated."

The department was able to purchase this technology from a grant for $67,000 they received by the Acquisition Instruction Research Equipment through the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation in spring 2014. They received the Bod Pod in May and the faculty is currently working on incorporating the technology into the curriculum.

For more information about the University's Nutrition program, visit http://www.cabnr.unr.edu/anvs/bs_nutrition_science.aspx

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