Measuring Up To Overall Health

Your overall health and risk of diseases like diabetes and heart disease are highly influenced by your body fat. Weighing in on the scale is not enough! So, what’s the best measurement?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is an equation for weight to height ratio however is not specific enough to differentiate muscle from fat mass. Someone could have a normal BMI, yet excess fat mass.  Conversely, athletes tend to have elevated BMIs and lower body fat percents.

Body fat percentage is measured in an outpatient setting using skin fold calipers or bioelectrical impedance. So if you have been working out consistently and have hit a plateau, it is a good time to have your body fat measured. Perhaps you are increasing muscle mass while decreasing fat mass. Body fat percent is a range so an assessment will show how much fat mass you can safely lose. It is most important to know if your percent body fat poses health risks.

Waist circumference and waist to hip ratio is another assessment, mainly to gauge the central tendency to deposit abdominal fat.  This increases risk for heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.

With all these measures it can become difficult to understand which one is superior.  And what if one measure is normal but another is abnormal.  I like to view these measures collectively.  So, I assess them all.  Then I take the average of the person’s anthropometrics along with the nutrition focused physical assessment and review of their current food intake to determine associate health effects and criteria for overweight and obesity.

Remember, in order to maintain a healthy weight and avoid chronic disease it is important to make good food choices like including a variety of fruits and vegetables and engaging in moderate physical activity outside your daily tasks most days!


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