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There is wide variability in the shape and size of an individual and their body composition. This partly reflects inherent genetic differences, but to a large extent is determined by the extent to which their intake of energy and nutrients has adequately matched their needs over extended periods of time.During childhood, the effective partitioning of nutrients to tissues reflects the hierarchy of demand for growth and maturation during critical periods of development. At all ages, the structural relationships at the molecular, cellular, tissue and whole-body levels are indicative of functional capability and the capacity to cope with internal and external stresses.Reliable measurements of body composition and their interpretation can mark health, be indicative of the risk of ill-health and be a direct cause of pathology and disease. The bioeletrical impedance of the body has been used as an indirect measure for body composition, because it is a reflection of both its structural and functional characteristics, but the specifics of the relationships between these considerations still need to be determined.The measurement of bioelectrical impedance is simple to carry out and is non-invasive. It could be further refined and developed to fully explore and exploit its potential utility in practice.