Long-range scanners show no life signs on board, Captain.
November 18, 2012 11:48 PM   Subscribe

I recently encountered a health doodad, and I would like to know what approximate percentage of it was bulls#%$.

My wife and I volunteered to do this fitness month thing at our workplace. The YMCA is partnering up with all the companies in our business park and I don't know what all is going on, but among other things, they do a weigh-in and assessment before and after to see if you actually got healthier in the end.

The assessment was performed by handing me what appeared to be a fancy video game controller. It was basically, from what I remember, like an H made of black plastic with blinkenlights on. I was then told to "stand still, with feet shoulder width apart, and hold it out at arm's length." I complied, because what else does one do in such a situation? I asked what, exactly, I was holding and what it did, and the examiner told me that it used "electromagnetic pulses" to examine my fat content based on the principle that such pulses moved at different speeds through muscle and fat.

Afterward, I was informed that I was something like 27 percent body fat and that I was dehydrated. Which, okay, I'm pretty fat, no argument. And I hadn't had breakfast or anything to drink yet, so sure, I'd buy dehydrated. But it still felt like they'd just waved a dowsing rod with a quartz crystal on it at me.

My question, I suppose is: this device that was used... is this a thing now? Has anyone else encountered this? Is it real or did I just have the physical fitness equivalent of an E-Meter reading? Is there any kind of science to back this doohickey up?
posted by Scattercat to Health & Fitness (7 answers total)
They're definitely a thing, and they work in a similar fashion to scales that measure body fat. Not the most accurate measure, but non-invasive and probably decent enough to establish a baseline.
posted by charmcityblues at 11:55 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Knowledge. Most importantly "Bioelectrical impedance analysis"

Similar to what you held?

It is a thing. Just go read my wiki link on how to measure body fat readings. We have many ways to judge the fat/muscle composition of a body.

If you buy a modern scale, it will often come equipped with a version of this.

For the unhappy record, men are obese at over 25% body fat. Also, please drink water more if they said you're dehydrated. You really shouldn't wake up and be dehydrated. It's serious.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:57 PM on November 18, 2012

Yeah, I'm fat. I know. Even Wii Fit told me I was fat, back in the day.

The Omnicron thing you guys both linked to looks similar to what I encountered. (The one I held was attached to a laptop, which I expect explains the differences.)

It sounded plausible enough as a measurement tool, but given that I've talked to actual medical professionals who believed in the healing power of magnet bracelets and herbal purgatives, I figured I'd get a reality check before deciding how high to raise my single eloquent eyebrow at the results I got.
posted by Scattercat at 12:03 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]

You really shouldn't wake up and be dehydrated.

Waking up dehydrated is pretty much universal. It's because vasopressin levels peak at night, so most people go all night without voiding or taking water on board. It's so consistent that first-morning voids are preferred for renal studies because they are less variant by hydration status.
posted by gingerest at 12:29 AM on November 19, 2012 [10 favorites]

An E-meter is a device with a similar function, but it mainly measures the changes in galvanic skin response (changes in level of conductivity of your skin); during calibration it must measure the overall resistance from your hand to your hand through your body, but the test itself is on the changes in your skin during the interrogation.. er, "audit."
posted by Sunburnt at 6:30 AM on November 19, 2012

Totally legit.
posted by windykites at 7:18 AM on November 19, 2012

It's a legitimate measuring tool, but the results should be taken with a grain of salt when it comes to evaluating your body fat percentage. If you were dehydrated it may have been pretty accurate (but still potentially off by 1-3% in either direction), but if you're not dehydrated next time, it may be more likely to be off/off by more than 1-3%.

It's not dowsing though. It's just an inexact measuring tool.
posted by Urban Winter at 7:49 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

« Older We don't go to Dubai-holm   |   I have a bunch of taters. I need to eat these... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.