Why is Body Fat Percentage Important?
The reason that the percentage of body fat you have is important is that it is a good indication of your overall body composition. Whilst body mass index bmi has been the standard measure of how healthy your weight is, this height to weight ratio does have limitations and body composition is one of them. For example, if you are a relatively slim woman with a BMI of around 19.5 with a fat tum, you may be MORE at risk health wise than an overweight lady with a BMI of 27. Why? Because the distribution of fat is an important indicator of health and the slim lady may have a higher percentage of fat than than the larger lady, who may be very muscular and big-boned.
What is body fat percentage?
Body fat percentage (BFP) is simply the amount of fat, or the fat mass, of your body divided by your overall total body mass (or weight). This does not necessarily mean that once the percentage of body fat has been deducted from the equation, that everything else that is left is muscle mass as some people believe. After the fat percentage of the body has been calculated everything left over is know as ‘lean body mass’ and includes water, bones, organs, hair and muscle which is a little misleading as bones and hair are not that ‘lean’.
All body fat is not the same. There are two types of body fat and these are:-
- Essential Fat: This type of fat is found in most parts of the body such as nerve sheaths, walls of organs, bone marrow and muscles and is essential to normal functioning. Women have a higher percentage of essential fat as it is also found in the breasts, lining of the uterus, hips and thighs. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE) the percentage of essential fat should be around 8 – 12 % for women and 3 – 5% for men (but these figures do vary according to the source).
- Storage Fat: Now, this is mainly the fat that we are talking about. This is the type of fat that we do NOT want too much of this in the body. This fat forms the subcutaneous fat (or the fat under the skin) that you can physically pinch and also visceral fat (or abdominal fat) that is deep in the abdomen surrounding the organs for protection. It is the ‘storage fat’ that is used in metabolism and energy expenditure, and as we all know, too much of this can have some serious health implications.
Comments and Admiration of a body fat percentage formula
The body fat percentage formula, using your BMI, age, and gender:
Child Body Fat % = (1.51 x BMI) – (0.70 x Age) – (3.6 x gender) + 1.4
Adult Body Fat % = (1.20 x BMI) + (0.23 x Age) – (10.8 x gender) – 5.4
using gender male= 1, female= 0.
There are other ways to find formulas for body fat.1 written by other scientists. Reference 1 is another place to look.
- Jackson AS, Stanforth PR, Gagnon J, et al. The effect of sex, age and race on estimating percentage body fat from body mass index: the Heritage Family Study. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord, Jun 2002;26(6):789-96
There is a problem with this formula, and others like it. They are linear.
But Body fat percentage has a curved distribution relative to body mass index, not linear.
So the body fat percentage formulas are not as good as they could be.
January 20, 2015 update. A crazy thing I discovered. Someone copied my paragraph and pasted it into Yahoo Answers, and now when I search Google for that paragraph, it only shows Yahoo answers, and not my own page. So the more powerful domain wins, and my page gets penalized as duplicate content. That sucks. And they didn’t even give this page a link. Please don’t do that in the future. Just link here instead please. Each page that is penalized by google, weighs down the entire website.
Lets rephrase the question. If you know your BMI, do you also know your body fat percentage? The answer is yes, but only if you are kindof average in all respects. The above formula works, if you are average height, average weight, age around 30.
Is Body fat a better measurement than body mass index? YES. yes. well, maybe, It’s a coin toss.
Here are some Q&A…
- What does body fat percentage mean? Body fat percentage is simply the percentage of fat that your body contains. For your body to function properly it is important that your body contains a certain amount of fat.
- How is body fat percentage calculated? Your body fat percentage is calculated by taking your age, height and weight, gender and waist measurement into account. There are many different forms on how to measure and calculate your body fat percentage. Your results will help you determine a healthy weight and realistic weight loss goals based on the information you provided.
- What are some ways to measure body fat percentage? Skin fold caliper, bioelectric impedance analysis, anthropometric, hydrostatic weighing, or DEXA scan.
- What are the body fat percentage basics? Body fat percentage, body fat distribution, body shape, age, muscle striations, and vascularity.
- What is the body fat percentage for abs? The body fat percentage for nice abs is somewhere between 15% and 10%. Crazy bodybuilder-type-abs is around 7% and 3%.
- What is the body fat percentage for bikini competition? A bikini competitor is anywhere from 8-13% body fat.
- What body fat percentage is considered overweight? For women between ages 20-40, the overweight body fat percentage is between 33-39% and anywhere above 39% is considered obese. Women who are ages 41-60, the overweight body percentage is 35-40% and anywhere over 40% is considered obese. Whereas for men it’s a little bit different. Men between ages 20-40 overweight body fat percentage is between 19 and 25%, and obese is anywhere above 25%. Men ages 41-60, overweight is 22-27% and obese is anywhere over 27% body fat.
- What does body fat percentage look like? As men gain body fat, the fat typically starts to go into the stomach area. As it grows, it will begin to form all over the body, but still mainly in the stomach. Wheres females, they typically see fat appearing into their hips and thighs. but women do see noticeable amounts of fat in their stomachs as well at even low body fat percentages.
- Gallagher D, Heymsfield SB, Heo M, Jebb SA, Murgatroyd PR, Sakamoto Y. (2000) Healthy percentage body fat ranges: an approach for developing guidelines based on body mass index. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Sep;72(3):694-701.(Retrieved July 29th 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10966886
- Sahakyan KR, Somers VK, Rodriguez-Escudero JP, Hodge DO, Carter RE, Sochor O, Coutinho T, Jensen MD, Roger VL, Singh P, Lopez-Jimenez F. (2015) Normal-Weight Central Obesity: Implications for Total and Cardiovascular Mortality. Ann Intern Med. 2015 Dec 1;163(11):827-35. (Retrieved July 22nd 2016) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26551006