Comparison of 3D laser-based photonic scans and manual anthropometric measurements of body size and shape in a validation study of 123 young Swiss men.

Koepke, Nikola; Zwahlen, Marcel; Wells, Jonathan C; Bender, Nicole; Henneberg, Maciej; Rühli, Frank J; Staub, Kaspar (2017). Comparison of 3D laser-based photonic scans and manual anthropometric measurements of body size and shape in a validation study of 123 young Swiss men. PeerJ, 5, e2980. PeerJ, Ltd 10.7717/peerj.2980

Koepke PeerJ 2017.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons: Attribution (CC-BY).

Download (1MB) | Preview

BACKGROUND Manual anthropometric measurements are time-consuming and challenging to perform within acceptable intra- and inter-individual error margins in large studies. Three-dimensional (3D) laser body scanners provide a fast and precise alternative: within a few seconds the system produces a 3D image of the body topography and calculates some 150 standardised body size measurements. OBJECTIVE The aim was to enhance the small number of existing validation studies and compare scan and manual techniques based on five selected measurements. We assessed the agreement between two repeated measurements within the two methods, analysed the direct agreement between the two methods, and explored the differences between the techniques when used in regressions assessing the effect of health related determinants on body shape indices. METHODS We performed two repeated body scans on 123 volunteering young men using a Vitus Smart XXL body scanner. We manually measured height, waist, hip, buttock, and chest circumferences twice for each participant according to the WHO guidelines. The participants also filled in a basic questionnaire. RESULTS Mean differences between the two scan measurements were smaller than between the two manual measurements, and precision as well as intra-class correlation coefficients were higher. Both techniques were strongly correlated. When comparing means between both techniques we found significant differences: Height was systematically shorter by 2.1 cm, whereas waist, hip and bust circumference measurements were larger in the scans by 1.17-4.37 cm. In consequence, body shape indices also became larger and the prevalence of overweight was greater when calculated from the scans. Between 4.1% and 7.3% of the probands changed risk category from normal to overweight when classified based on the scans. However, when employing regression analyses the two measurement techniques resulted in very similar coefficients, confidence intervals, and p-values. CONCLUSION For performing a large number of measurements in a large group of probands in a short time, body scans generally showed good feasibility, reliability, and validity in comparison to manual measurements. The systematic differences between the methods may result from their technical nature (contact vs. non-contact).

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (ISPM)

UniBE Contributor:

Zwahlen, Marcel


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




PeerJ, Ltd




Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2017 14:03

Last Modified:

09 Sep 2017 18:24

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Body mass index; Height Photonic scanning; Stature; Validation; Waist circumference; Waist-to-height-ratio; Waist-to-hip-ratio




Actions (login required)

Edit item Edit item
Provide Feedback