Analysing body composition as compositional data: An exploration of the relationship between body composition, body mass and bone strength

D Dumuid, J A Martín-Fernández, S Ellul, R S Kenett, M Wake, P Simm, L Baur, T Olds
Statistical Methods in Medical Research 2020 September 17, : 962280220955221
Human body composition is made up of mutually exclusive and exhaustive parts (e.g. %truncal fat, %non-truncal fat and %fat-free mass) which are constrained to sum to the same total (100%). In statistical analyses, individual parts of body composition (e.g. %truncal fat or %fat-free mass) have traditionally been used as proxies for body composition, and have been linked with a range of health outcomes. But analysis of individual parts omits information about the other parts, which are intrinsically co-dependent because of the constant sum constraint of 100%. Further, body mass may be associated with health outcomes. We describe a statistical approach for body composition based on compositional data analysis. The body composition data are expressed as logratios to allow relative information about all the compositional parts to be explored simultaneously in relation to health outcomes. We describe a recent extension to the logratio approach to compositional data analysis which allows absolute information about the total of the compositional parts (body mass) to be considered alongside relative information about body composition. The statistical approach is illustrated by an example that explores the relationships between adults' body composition, body mass and bone strength.

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