“Although BMI is a very popular and simple way to determine whether you have a healthy weight in relation to your height, there is a lot of criticism of this method of measurement,” explains researcher Willem De Keyzer. “A healthy weight depends on many more factors than just the ratio between our weight and our height. Moreover, BMI is too often used as a derived measure for our body fat content, which is not correct. BMI is also less useful for children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with a lot of muscle mass. “
HOGENT’s research team therefore looked for alternatives. “Of course there are many other methods that can give a more precise picture of a person’s body fat percentage,” says Willem. “But for this you need very expensive measuring equipment, such as an MRI scan, making them less accessible to a wide audience.”
Within HOGENT’s research project, the team developed an algorithm with which the fat percentage can be determined more accurately than by calculating BMI. Using a few simple measurements of body measurements, the algorithm generates a calculation of the fat percentage in a person’s body. To arrive at this algorithm, the researchers determined on the basis of 3D body scans which body measurements and / or ratios between these measures were decisive for the fat percentage. The team subjected two hundred and fifty subjects to different measurement methods. In addition to a few manual measurements, each subject underwent a 3D body scan, and the fat percentage was determined by means of a reference measurement in the Bodpod and a bioelectrical impedance measurement.
To further develop the algorithm into a useful tool for as many people as possible, HOGENT decided to work with the Danish company Global Scanning, an international market leader in scanning technologies. They will process the algorithm in the software ‘Shapewatch’, which is a collaboration between the Ghent company QuantaCorp and Global Scanning. These companies are working on a bodyscan method for the fitness and wellness market that automatically calculates the body composition, and therefore also the fat percentage. Alexander Vandevelde of QuantaCorp: “The cooperation between Global Scanning, HOGENT and QuantaCorp is very successful. QuantaCorp now has the opportunity to open its scanning technology to a wider audience, with Global Scanning providing the hardware and the necessary commercial know-how to market Shapewatch. The algorithm developed by HOGENT is an indispensable piece of the puzzle to make Shapewatch a reliable scanning and measuring method. “
Willem De Keyzer is very satisfied with the outcome of the project. “It was a particularly challenging and fascinating research project in which HOGENT researchers from different disciplines worked together in a successful way. The algorithm, the final result of the project, could immediately count on a lot of international interest. Nevertheless, we deliberately opted for a collaboration with a company from Ghent, in order to be able to anchor our practice-oriented research regionally at the same time. The international touch of the collaboration with Global Scanning made the project complete for me “, concludes De Keyzer.