U of G Opens First Body Composition and Metabolism Lab in Ontario

September 21, 2007 - News Release

A research lab dedicated to studying the effects of exercise, diet and medication on body composition and metabolism is opening today on the University of Guelph campus.

The first of its kind in Ontario, the Body Composition and Metabolism Laboratory is equipped with cutting-edge technology that will allow researchers to uncover ways of improving health from boosting metabolism and increasing bone density to building muscle and losing fat.

"The interest in body composition from a scientific perspective has gone through the roof in the last 20 years," said Prof. Andrea Buchholz, lab director and faculty member in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition. "This lab offers researchers one-stop shopping. Virtually all research about body composition and calorie burning can happen right here."

Funded by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, the $400,000 lab houses one of the few "BOD PODs" in the country. A "BOD POD" is the latest technology in measuring body composition. Instead of the typical method of submerging the entire body underwater to determine a person's fat and lean mass, the BOD POD measures body composition through air displacement. It's more user-friendly for both the researcher and subject, said Buchholz.

The lab has a dual energy X-ray absorptiometry used to study bone mineral density and a bioelectrical impedance analyser, which sends small electrical signals through the body to measure the amount of body water. Buchholz said the more body water a person has, the more quickly the current is transmitted through the body.

The lab also houses an indirect calorimeter, which can determine the number of calories you burn at rest and after eating by measuring the amount of oxygen breathed in and the amount of carbon dioxide breathed out. The lab also has the latest diet analysis software, which can break down the nutritional composition of a meal from vitamin C and iron to the number of calories.

Buchholz said the high-tech equipment will be instrumental in helping researchers find solutions to the obesity epidemic.

"The lab has the tools to research ways of helping people lose fat and burn more calories."

The lab can also be used for research aimed at helping athletes build muscle, stay slim without losing bone density and achieve the optimal body composition for their sport, she said.

"It can also be used for research focused on improving the health of the elderly and reducing the number of falls, by finding ways of maintaining muscle mass and bone density as we age."

Working in collaboration with Prof. Lindsay Robinson, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, Buchholz has already begun her first research project in the lab. It involves testing the effectiveness of omega-3-enriched foods in helping overweight middle-aged men burn more calories and reduce their risk of heart disease. Subjects will be asked to replace some of the staple foods in their diet with foods that have been enriched with omega-3.

Using all the equipment in the lab, Buchholz will be able to measure the complete body composition and energy metabolism of the men before and after they consume an omega-3-enriched diet.

Media and the public are invited to the official opening of the Body Composition and Metabolism Lab.

When: Today from 1 to 4 p.m.
Where: J. T. Powell Building, Room 206

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1