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Why do we ignore the head?

When I give a consultation, and in the explanatory notes that every Bodyscan client receives, I read fat and lean mass to the subtotal line in the DEXA report and ignore the head.

There are three reasons for that:

1. We’re really not interested in the head, face and brain when it comes to body composition.
2. DEXA makes some assumptions and estimates about brain fat and because the skull is an encased piece of bone.
3. If you’re tall we have to leave either your head or feet off the end of the table (and we’re much more interested in your feet!)

Bodyscan uses Hologic scanners in all it sites. The other chief manufacturer of DEXA body composition scanners, GE, does not include the head anywhere in the analysis.

It’s fair to say that omitting the head does create some inconsistencies in relation to other data on the report. For example, your fat mass index (fat mass/height-squared) and lean mass index (lean mass/height-squared) are calculated using the total figures. Also, your rate-of-change page that shows your progress in subsequent scan reports also plots changes in total numbers.

Of course, you can include the head and read the report that way, but for fat mass, lean mass and body fat percentage, we will read to the subtotal line and ignore the head.