After days of plowing through online articles and printed materials for fat loss, I realize there are numerous ways used to determine a healthy weight. Basically, being heavy ain't bad if you are say a non drug abusing body builder or wrestler. Nobody would consider them unhealthy in their muscle clad bodies since muscle is good tissue!
It is the measurement of the amount of body fat that will tell us whether we are healthy or unhealthy. There are various ways to measure that. We have the popular body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, waist to hop ratio, skinfold, bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA), DEXA, near infrared (NIR) interactance, hydrostatic weighing and air displacement.
Body Mass Index
This is a weight to height ratio and the resultant index gives an indication of one's body fat percentage and one's risk to obesity related diseases. The formula is as follows:
BMI = Weight(KG) / ( Height (m) x Height (m) )
This is by far the most common form of measurement but it has its limitation since it assumes one has a "typical" build. Body builders and wrestlers ain't your typical build so the BMI is not useful in those cases. Children should refer to an age and gender specific BMI chart.
If you notice, different people store fat differently especially between women and men. Men tend to store fat around the abdomen area and women around the hips and thighs. The measurement of waist circumference provides information about the distribution of one's body fat and risks to obesity related conditions.
To measure waist circumference, a measuring tape of adequate length is required. The correct position for measuring waist circumference is midway between the upper hip bone and the lowest point of the rib cage. Measurement with the tape should be taken at this midway point. In cases where the mid point cannot be found (in very overweight people), placing the tape at the level of the belly button will have to do.
Waist to Hip Ratio
This is basically the ratio of the waist circumference to the hip ratio. In addition to measuring the waist circumference, the hip circumference is also measured and the resultant waist to hip ratio is used as an indication of risk to coronary heart disease.
This method is done by measuring a pinch of skin by calipers at several standardized points on the body to determine the subcutaneous fat layer thickness. An equation is then used to estimate the body fat percentage based on the measurement taken.
Bioelectrical Impedence Analysis
A common method used for estimating body composition. BIA measures the opposition to the flow of an electric current through the body fluids contained in the lean and fat tissue. Impedance is low in lean tissue and high in fat tissue. Hence the amount of electrical impedance gives an estimate amount of fat in the body.
Near Infrared Interactance
This is based on the principles of light absorption , reflectance, and near infrared spectroscopy. A computerized spectrophotometer that has a scan and probe are used. The probe is placed onto a selected body site such as the biceps and it emits an infrared light which passes through both fat and muscle and is reflected back to the probe. Differences in optical density as a result of difference in body composition, are measured to give an indirect measurement of body fat.
DEXA uses two X-ray energies to measure body fat, muscle, and bone mineral. It takes approximately 10 to 20 mins for a full body scan. The results may be viewed as whole body estimates of body fat, muscle, and bone mineral as well as regional body estimates.
This method uses Archimedes principle which states that when a body is submerged in water, there is a buoyant counter force equal to the weight of the water which is displaced. Equipment for such measurement are usually found in research laboratories.
This method is based on the same principle as hydrostatic weighing. Instead of using water to measure body volume, air displacement is used to measure body volume.
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