The rising occurrence of obesity in the United States has been targeted by media, politicians, and most importantly doctors. Obesity is the name for a condition that is characterized by a person carrying excessive amounts of body fat. Weighing yourself is not effective in the determination of the percentage of body fat that you carry. Athletes, or people that work out on a regular basis may be considered overweight by typical standards, but these pounds are made up of lean muscle that does not contribute to the risk of certain medical conditions that are associated with obesity. There are many ways to measure body fat. These are the most common and most accurate.
Web sites like www.healthcentral.com provide calculators to determine if the amount of body fat that you carry is healthy in conjunction with your age, weight, height, and sex. The site requires you to enter your age, weight, sex, and body part measurements. This includes the size of your hips, calf, thigh, neck, and wrist. When these measurements are entered, the on-line calculator determines your approximate percentage of body fat.
Tape Measure Test
The tape measure test is commonly used by the United States military to determine if a candidate meets the standards to enlist. To measure your body fat percentage, remove your clothing except for undergarments and use a tape measure to measure waist, hips, thigh, calf, wrist, and neck. Use a scientific calculator to apply the measurements to the following formula: %fat=(163.205 * LOG ((abdomen)+(hip)-(neck)))-(97.684 * LOG (height))-78.37, or enter the measurements into an on-line calculator to determine your body fat ratio.
Calipers are a pincer-like tool used by health care professionals to physically measure the amount of body fat on a person. Folds of skin from the backs and fronts of the upper arms, shoulder blades, and waist are measured and added together. The added totals from the caliper test are then compared to a chart, similar to the one available at www.muscleandstrength.com, to determine the percentage of body fat.
NIR, or Near Infared Interactance is a relatively new method of measuring body fat. Probes are attached to various points on the body to measure the fat composition of body tissues. A formula is then applied to the measurements to result in a body fat ratio. Some gyms and medical practices use this method to determine the percentage of body fat that a person is carrying.
Hydrostatic Weighing has been hailed as the most accurate method used in the determination of body fat ratio. This method involves weighing a person, both on land and under water, under the pretext that muscle weighs more than fat, so a person with higher amounts of body fat will be more buoyant than the patient with higher muscle mass.
These are the most commonly used methods to determine the percentage of body fat, but, other methods like bio-impedance and handheld bio-impedance are becoming more popular. The best way to determine your personal body fat percentage is to visit your physician. He or she can also give you advice on diet and exercise to return to a more healthy BMI.