Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


Scott Reaves


Background: Currently, body composition (BC) assessment is usually performed to diagnose disease states and accurately estimate certain types of tissues. In athletes, performing BC assessments helps gauge training and nutrition programs to see if they are adequately meeting the athlete’s needs to improve performance. Annual Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA) scans before the start of an athlete’s season can help identify an athlete’s preparedness or health before training begins.

Objective: To assess the preseason BC of four collegiate sports: Men’s basketball, men’s baseball, women’s volleyball, and women’s soccer, for Fat Mass (FM), bone mineral density BMD), Fat-Free Mass (FFM), and visceral adipose tissue (VAT).

Methods: DXA (Lunar iDXA, GE Healthcare) scans were performed before the start of pre-season training for Men’s Basketball, Baseball, Women’s Volleyball, and Women’s Soccer. End-season DXA scans were performed after the end of the regular season for Men’s Basketball and Baseball athletes. Visceral Adipose Tissue was measured using CoreScan software provided by GE and Fat Mass Index (FMI) and Fat-Free Mass Index (FFMI) were calculated from scanned values.

Results: Between the various sports, there were several significant differences that were apparent. Height and percentage of Fat Mass (%BF) were significantly different between all sports except Women’s Volleyball and Women’s Soccer. BMI, VAT, and FFMI were significantly different between males and females. Changes over a season showed increased BMD in Men’s Basketball (2.79 to 2.99 Z-score, pre to end of season scan respectively; p < 0.001). No other observations were noticed to be significant.

Conclusions: Sports-specific training and sex have large influences on the body composition of athletes. FMI and FFMI are two indices that may have a stronger indication to health than parameters considered for those who are sedentary and non-active. Female athletes have little to no amounts of VAT and this warrants further investigation.