Body Fat Measurement: Percentage Vs. Body Mass
What's the best measurement to assess health risks from being overweight? Experts say BMI and body-fat percentage both have their place
By John Casey
Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD
Weight, body fat, body mass index -- what do all these numbers mean? And what do they really tell you about your health?
Some experts tout BMI, or body mass index, as the most accurate way to determine the effect of weight on your health. In fact, most recent medical research uses BMI as an indicator of someone's health status and disease risk.
The CDC provides the following ranges for BMI values for adults:
But others feel that body-fat percentage is really the way to go.
"The BMI numbers are way too general to be really useful," says Tammy Callahan, marketing manager of Life Measurement Inc., which manufactures a fat analyzer for use in gymnasiums and medical settings. "These numbers were developed using data from enormous numbers of people. They don't tell you anything about your own body composition, how much of your weight is fat, and how much is muscles and tissue."