Your Body Fat Percentage: What Does It Mean?
Overfat Versus Overweight
|Interpreting Body Mass Index|
|Obese||30.0 and above|
Measuring Your Body Fat
- Underwater weighing—Under water, lean tissue sinks and fat floats. Your underwater weight can be used to estimate the amount of fat mass you carry. Underwater weighing is highly accurate, but it can be expensive and time consuming, and it requires special equipment.
- The Bod Pod—This machine works by measuring the amount of air your body displaces. Like underwater weighing, the Bod Pod is highly accurate, but it can be expensive and requires special equipment. The Bod Pod is, however, slightly more convenient than underwater weighing, since it does not require underwater submersion. The Bod Pod also takes less time.
- Dual x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan—The DEXA scan uses low-level x-rays to calculate the amount of body fat, muscle, and bone in your body. The advantages of this scan are that it is quick and it takes bone into consideration when comparing body fat to muscle.
- Bioelectrical impedance—This method works by measuring the speed of an electrical current as it travels through your body. It is one of the least expensive methods of measuring body fat. It is less subject to human error than calipers, but its accuracy depends on a number of factors, including hydration, the fullness of the stomach, and how recently a person has exercised. If you are looking for a way to keep track of your body fat percentage at home, you can buy a bioelectrical impedance scale. Keep in mind though, that these scales are not always accurate and are probably better for monitoring changes in your body fat than giving you precise numbers.
Healthy Body Fat Percentages
|Body Fat Guidelines|
|Age||Healthy Body Fat % (Women)||Healthy Body Fat % (Men)|
Reducing Your Body Fat
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases http://www.niddk.nih.gov
Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology http://www.csep.ca
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
About BMI for adults. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/adult%5FBMI/about%5Fadult%5FBMI.htm. Updated July 11, 2014. Accessed December 23, 2014.
BMI calculator. Calorie Control Council website. Available at: http://www.caloriecontrol.org/healthy-weight-tool-kit/body-mass-index-calculator. Accessed December 23, 2014.
Body composition. Georgia State University website. Available at: http://www.gsu.edu/~wwwfit/bodycomp.html. Accessed on December 23, 2014.
Diets for weight loss. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 8, 2014. Accessed December 23, 2014.
Gallagher D, Heymsfield SB, Heo M, et al. Healthy percentage body fat ranges: guidelines based on body fat index. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;72:694-701.
It's about eating right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/Public/content.aspx?id=6851. Updated November 2012. Accessed December 23, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 12/2014 -
- Update Date: 12/23/2014 -