PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Over one century of research has led to methods for measuring all major body components at the atomic, molecular, cellular, and tissue-system levels. These remarkable developments have fueled a rapid and sustained increase in 'body composition' biological findings and related publications. Other than small, incremental improvements in available methods, is there no longer a need for developing new body composition methods? This review examines the question: are we approaching the 'end' of body composition methodology research? RECENT FINDINGS: Emerging and rapidly growing areas outside of 'traditional' body composition research are highlighting the need for new and innovative method development. Recently introduced technologies such as positron emission tomography and functional magnetic resonance imaging extend 'mass' estimates to corresponding 'function' and physiology in humans. Although all major components are now measurable in humans, large gaps remain when considering factors such as radiation exposure, invasiveness, static versus dynamic measurements, and laboratory versus clinic and field assessments. SUMMARY: The end of the first phase of body composition method development has now arrived: all major components are measurable in vivo. The accessibility of these methods is stimulating rapid advances in biological knowledge surrounding human body composition from in utero to old age. Sustaining advances in new body composition method development will require extending the boundaries of the field as it now exists.
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