Move Over BMI, Do You Know Your Body Fat Percentage?

It is the middle of the year and you have decided to get back in shape. You stand on the weighing machine to weigh yourself. But do you know your ideal weight?

 

BMI – A Popular Ideal Weight Indicator

 

For decades now, the BMI (Body Mass Index) has been a popular indicator of ideal weight; it takes your weight and height into consideration and gives you a 2 digit number that helps you assess if you are underweight, normal, overweight or even obese. However, there have been a number of debates recently about BMI’s limitations in depicting ideal body weight. Experts have suggested other parameters which might have an edge over BMI in indicating ideal weight and the most prominent one in this list is body fat percentage – the percentage of total body mass that is contributed by the fat content in the body. 

 

What Does BMI Miss

 

The BMI doesn’t take into account your body composition. If you are a professional athlete, you are likely to have a lot of muscle with low fat; your BMI may indicate you are overweight butthat doesn’t necessarily mean you are unhealthy. On the other hand, if you are lean with normal body weight but less muscle and high fat, you may get a false assurance of being in good health. Simply put, it is possible to have a normal BMI and yet be at a high risk because of a high body fat percentage.

 

BMI Vs. Body Fat Percentage

 

Body fat percentage works around BMI’s limitation by giving a direct measure of fat content in our bodies.  Let’s take, for example, an Indian male who weighs about 60 – 70 kilos and is about 5 feet 10 inches tall. Such a person might have a normal BMI but he might still be having an unusually high amount of fat typically around the mid-portion of the body; this is an independent high-risk factor for heart disease, stroke and diabetes. BMI can miss such indications, butbody fat percentage, on the other hand, captures your fat content directly and hence gives a better indication of your overall health.

 

Measuring body fat percentage

 

Body fat percentage can be measured using a variety of technologies.

  • The simplest method is to usehand-held calipers. You can use calipers to measure the thickness of fat layers on your muscles and then use this chart to get your body fat percentage.
  • A more advanced technology, which is also more accurate, is an MRI scan.
  • X-ray based DEXA scan also gives a fairly accurate measure of your body fat percentage.

For a rough estimate of your body fat percentage, use this calculator

 

Although the BMI is a popular indicator of ideal weight, it can also give you a false idea of your overall health. Don’t stop at a normal BMI, get your body fat percentagecalculated too. Andremember, whether it is BMI or fat percentage or any other parameter that you want to follow - the most effective mantra for staying healthy is: eat right, exercise and live healthy.

 

 

Related Articles: 

 

Obesity: An Epidemic Fast Spreading In India

All About Bariatric Surgery to Fight Obesity

6 Things That Can Help You Lose Weight

  

 

Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. 

 


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