Body Fat Mat

Losing weight is a billion dollar industry in the United States. One of the ways of measuring your health is to measure body fat.

There are several ways to do that, but a UW-La Crosse professor has a new invention that promises to measure body fat in a new and efficient way.

Dr. Richard Mikat was reading through a brochure on bio-mechanics a few years ago and saw research on pads that measure body pressure.

That's when he says, he had an idea.

"I began to wonder if pads like this could measure body fat," says Mikat, an Exercise Science professor.

Mikat then applied for a grant to do some experimenting.

"We did a pilot study and found out that it worked. It was actually not bad at predicting body fat."

This is how it works: Measurements are taken, and entered in the computer and then all the subject has to do is lie down on the mat. The computer then uses the pressure to gauge final results.

"This is one of the very fastest methods on the planet for measuring body fat percentage. Calipers, underwater weighing and Dexa all take several minutes. This can be done in less than a second."

Mikat says there is a 3% to 4% difference between the pilot study and the Dexascanner device currently being used by many doctors.

"Dexascanner is the gold standard used to measure body fat."

Mikat says he's applied for a patent, and is performing a second study on more than 200 students trying to fix errors from the pilot study.

His hope is to ultimately be within 2% of the Dexascanner reading.

"By using those comparisons we can develop formulas to make this system very accurate."

Mikat will finish the study at the end of the semester and then he'll start calculating the results.

If he gets the patent, it will be only the second patent issued to UW-La Crosse in history. The ownership will go to the university as will most of the subsequent profits.

But Mikat says it's the pride of the invention and the fun that makes it all worth it.