FAQ

Helpful Information

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Why am I taller or shorter according to Abby?

Abby is designed to be utilised with shoes and socks on for convenience as well as hygiene. Your shoes may add a centimetre or two, but don’t worry about that! Just try and wear the same shoes or similar shoe height when you do your next Abby health check. This will keep your measurements consistent. In the case that Abby represents you as ‘shorter’ , you may not have been standing upright or directly under the height sensor.

How does Abby measure my height?

There is a small, circular device on the roof of Abby which measures your height.

My weight looks heavier than normal?

Your weight may be slightly heavier since you are wearing clothes and shoes.

How does Abby determine my body fat?

Abby uses the method of Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA).

Why is it important to monitor body fat percentage?

Measuring weight alone is not a completely accurate assessment of health or fitness because it doesn't distinguish kilos that come from fat and kilos that come from lean muscle mass. Everyone needs some body fat, but too much fat results in obesity--one of the most important public health issues in the world. According to new federal guidelines, more than half of the US adult population are now overweight or obese, and one out of four children and adolescents is too fat.

Are there any illnesses directly linked to obesity?

Obesity is directly linked with Diabetes Type II and hypertension, and is a contributing risk factor for many other conditions including heart disease, sleep disorders, arthritis, gall bladder disease, stroke, and several forms of cancer. Awareness and monitoring of body fat percentage can be a motivational tool for a fitness or weight management program. Additionally, with any chronic degenerative disease, monitoring body fat and lean body mass is critical to evaluation, treatment, and management of the condition. This information is helpful in determining a suitable exercise and nutritional program on an individual basis.

Is it possible to have too little body fat?

Yes. Both extremes--too much or too little body fat--put an individual at risk for serious medical and/or psychological conditions. Having a very low body fat percentage, particularly for women, can result in musculoskeletal problems and osteoporosis. And it can upset the hormonal balance causing loss of menstruation. Striving for extremely low body fat can also result in severe eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge-eating which have significant health implications.

How does Abby’s BIA compare with other methods in terms of accuracy, repeatability, cost, convenience, and length of procedure?

There are many methods of estimating body fat. The following is a summary of the most common ones.


DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry)

Today, this method is considered a gold standard because of its reliability, precision, and the fact that it is based on three body components (fat, muscle, bone) rather than two (fat and muscle) as in most other methods including hydrostatic weighing. It allows fat distribution throughout the entire body to be read in a single scan. The equipment used is very expensive and a person must lie perfectly still for 10-20 minutes while the scan is taken. DEXA is found mainly in research facilities.


Hydrostatic Weighing

Done correctly, this method is also quite accurate and considered a gold standard. However, the test is somewhat subjective because it relies upon the subject's ability to expel all oxygen from their lungs while submerged in a tank of water. Oxygen remaining in the lungs will skew the results. In clinical settings, this procedure is repeated a number of times, and an average is taken. The "tank" is expensive and the inconvenience to the user is considerable. Because of the cost, lengthy testing process, and physical burden to the subject, this method is more suitable for research studies.


Conventional BIA

Bioelectrical impedance analysis uses a very small electrical signal to measure body impedance. The signal is conducted through the water contained in the body. Lean muscle has much more water than fat tissue and allows the signal to pass easily. Fat causes impedance or resistance to the signal. Conventional Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis methods are accurate, though not as convenient as the Abby BIA method, and may be somewhat subjective based on the placement of electrodes. The user must be in a horizontal position while electrodes and conductive jelly are placed on a wrist and ankle. This procedure is usually performed in a physician's office or clinic. Most conventional BIA manufacturers use hydrostatic weighing as the reference method.


Abby BIA

Abby’s hand-to-hand version of BIA produces very accurate results that are highly correlated with both DEXA and hydrostatic weighing. Measurements are very repeatable when tests are performed under consistent conditions. There is no physical imposition to the user; no need for a trained technician to operate the equipment; and the entire procedure takes less than one minute.


Calipers

Skinfold measurements taken by calipers are easy to do, inexpensive, and the method is portable. However, results can be very subjective depending on the skill of the technician and the site(s) measured. The quality of the calipers is also a factor. Inexpensive models sold for home use are usually less accurate than those used by an accredited technician. Additionally, the more obese the subject, the more difficult to "pinch" the skin correctly. Many people find calipers to be uncomfortable and invasive.


NIR

(Near Infra-Red) A fiber optic probe measures tissue composition at various sites on the body. This method has become popular because it is simple, fast, non-invasive, and the equipment is relatively inexpensive. However, studies have produced mixed results, and a high degree of error has occurred with very lean and very obese people. Numerous sources report that more research is needed to substantiate this method.

Are there optimal conditions for determining body fat percentage?

Yes, there are:

  • Select a consistent time of day, and try to measure at these times.

  • When normally hydrated.

  • Once you have established your baseline, monitor body fat weekly. Remember that body fat changes occur slowly over time.

Things that can affect hydration include:

  • strenuous exercise

  • recent food intake

  • diuretics such as caffeine, alcohol, certain medications

Why does my body fat percent fluctuate?

Abby uses state of the art technology, BIA (Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis). This method of body fat analysis is very accurate and easy to use; however, changes in hydration levels can affect readings. If your body is dehydrated, you will likely experience a higher than normal reading. If you are over-hydrated, you could experience a slightly lower reading. To obtain the greatest accuracy and repeatability from our product, Abby suggests the following protocol.

  • Take readings at least 3 hours after rising, eating a large meal, or exercising.

  • Take readings once a week at the same time of day under the same conditions. Average your readings for the month.

  • Compare averages from month to month.

By following this format, hydration fluctuations throughout the month will average out, and you will be able to better assess any real change in your body fat percentage over time.

Are there people who should not be measuring body fat on Abby?

People with pacemakers and pregnant women are advised not to use the Body Fat measurement facility on Abby. Although there are no known health risks, this is a precaution that is advocated by all manufacturers of BIA.

Is the Body Fat function on Abby safe to use for women who are pregnant?

There are no known health risks associated with pregnant women using the device. Since research has not been done on this population extensively we advise women who are pregnant to use Abby for weight purposes only. Since there are dynamic physiological changes that occur during pregnancy, a pregnant woman cannot expect an accurate body fat reading. Since obtaining an accurate reading during pregnancy is not possible, it would not be recommended to monitor your body fat until after delivery.

Is the Body Fat function on Abby safe to use if I have a medical device or implant?

Persons with pacemakers or other electronic medical implants should not use the Body Fat function on Abby. Persons with non-electronic medical implants may safely use the Body Fat function on Abby. Any metallic implant in your body could affect the body fat reading, giving a slightly lower than normal reading. However, since the metal will continue to have the same effect on the reading each time you use the monitor; you can still use the monitor to successfully track the relative change in body fat over time.

Is the blood pressure measurement accurate on Abby?

Usually you need to do multiple blood pressure readings before your doctor can diagnose you with high blood pressure. Do 3 or 4 blood pressure checks on Abby to see your trend. You may have been nervous the first time round, or you may have been moving around while Abby was taking your blood pressure. If your readings are consistently high, you should speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

How often should I do a health check?

As often as possible. In the beginning, try and do it once a day, and then you can move it to once a week or once a month check-ins. It depends on your preference.

How do I know if my results are good or not?

Look at the dials on your Abby results pdf. Green is good, yellow is medium risk, and red is high risk.

Do I get points from my medical aid by using Abby?

Not yet.

Why is my blood pressure slightly lower on Abby than when I go to the doctor or clinic?

Some people find that their blood pressure is normal at home, but rises slightly when they’re at the doctor. This is known as white coat syndrome, or the white coat effect. The syndrome gets its name from doctors and medical staff who sometimes wear white coats in a professional setting.

A healthy blood pressure reading is around 120/80 mm Hg. Anything above this is considered high blood pressure.

White coat syndrome may make your blood pressure read higher than it normally is, and the effect isn’t always a minor issue of doctor-associated anxiety. For some people, white coat syndrome could be a sign of a more serious blood pressure condition.