Your Body Fat Percentage: What Does It Mean?
The bathroom scale is a standard tool for anyone trying to get into better shape. Many either dread or anticipate what that little scale will say. But can the scale tell you the whole story? While it may be a good idea to keep tabs on your weight, it is also important to understand what makes up your weight.
Body composition refers to the proportion of fat you have, relative to lean tissue (muscles, bones, body water, organs, etc). This measurement is a clearer indicator of your fitness. No matter what you weigh, the higher percentage of body fat you have, the more likely you are to develop obesity-related diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
Your body mass index (BMI) is a measurement that takes your height into account. Health professionals use BMI to calculate whether a person is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. For most people, BMI is closely associated with the amount of body fat they carry. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in meters squared. The guidelines are:
|Interpreting Body Mass Index|
|Obese||30.0 and above|
The problem with BMI is that it does not work for everyone. Some people’s weight and height measurements put them in the overweight or even obese category while, in reality, they are lean and muscular. On the other hand, some people’s BMI indicates that they are healthy, when they are actually overweight, with little lean tissue and too much fatty tissue. So, whether or not your BMI indicates that you are overweight, it is important to find out if you are carrying too much body fat.
Last reviewedDecember 2014by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.