Body Composition Analysis

Schedule a Consult
woman in therapy discussing her body composition analysis with clinician

What is Body Composition Analysis?

Body Composition Analysis is a tool used to measure the amount of lean mass, muscle mass, body fat, total body water and cell integrity, also known as phase angle, in your body. At The Kahm Center we test Body Composition via a method called bioelectrical impedance which is quick and non-invasive.

Electrodes are attached to the hand and foot and a small painless electrical current is sent through the body. The test itself takes about 3 minutes from start to finish. Based on how the current passes through the body it is able to provide data to your clinician in order to more accurately determine nutrition goals for recovery.

The Body Composition Analysis provides more information than just scale weight and allows us to see when someone’s body is truly internally healed from malnutrition. In combination with metabolic testing, this testing is one of the things that sets The Kahm Center apart from other eating disorder treatment centers.

two snow drop flowers

How is Body Composition Analysis Helpful in Treating Eating Disorders?

Across the spectrum of eating disorder diagnoses, many individuals feel that they aren’t “sick enough” for treatment. When testing such as vital signs and lab work show no abnormalities, some individuals' beliefs that they do not need treatment are confirmed.

The Body Composition Analysis provides empirical evidence of damage to the body caused by an eating disorder such as when nutritional intake may be inadequate; even in cases where lab values are normal. This information helps to educate both the individual and the family on the importance of recovery and adhering to the treatment plan.

Detailed information from the Body Composition Analysis would show decreases in both cell integrity and lean mass in someone engaging in eating disorder behaviors. This provides invaluable information for the clinician to make informed decisions about meal plans and goals for recovery.

Benefits of Body Composition Analysis in Eating Disorder Treatment

It also is extremely helpful in tracking whether someone is progressing or regressing. Additionally, the data allows the treatment team to make more individualized recommendations for increases or decreases in level of care. In an intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization setting, this data is integral in helping the team to better understand the patient’s compliance outside of programming.

For example, if an individual’s body composition displayed a drop in lean mass, we know that either the person is engaging in behaviors outside of programming or is due for a meal plan increase. In other IOPs and PHPs which do not use the Body Composition Analysis, it can take several weeks before they realize that their patients are not following their meal plans when they are not actually in treatment - this is invaluable time that is lost. We, however, see this very quickly and are able to address it with our patients.

On the other hand, for example, if an individual’s body composition displayed an increase in lean mass, we know that they are doing great when they are not in programming. We encourage them and let them know that they are making great progress. This positively reinforces their good actions and builds further momentum towards recovery.

Body Composition Analysis at the Kahm Center

Throughout an individual’s treatment at The Kahm Center, we are able to use both Metabolic Testing and Body Composition Analysis to more accurately track how well our patients are recovering and how to best support the individual in their journey. We believe that scale weight, which is what most places use as their guidepost, is radically insufficient to truly track recovery.

The testing helps speed up the renourishing of our patients, and this is crucial because a malnourished brain does not have the energy needed to do the difficult therapeutic work. The testing also helps patients to witness and understand the changes in their own bodies throughout the process. This empowers them and further motivates them to reach fully recovered lives void of their eating disorders.

If you or a loved one are struggling with an eating disorder, reach out today to the Kahm Center in Burlington, Vermont.

Clinically Reviewed By

nick kahm reviewer

Nick Kahm, PhD


Nick Kahm, a former philosophy faculty member at St. Michael's College in Colchester, VT, transitioned from academia to running the Kahm Clinic with his mother. He started the clinic to train dietitians in using Metabolic Testing and Body Composition Analysis for helping people with eating disorders. Now, he is enthusiastic about expanding eating disorder treatment through the Kahm Center for Eating Disorders in Vermont.

Looking for treatment?

We're Here to Help!
Call for Assessment