Measuring Up Your Fat to Get the Real Story


If you want to discover whether you are truly underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese do not rely on your scale. A scale is capable of one thing and one thing only. It provides you with an accurate basis on which to base your weight loss or gain. It is a base point upon which to work with. If you really want to know where you “weigh-in” on the fat issue, you need to consider four other measurements currently in use. These are body mass index (BMI), waist size, skin fold thickness measurement and bioelectrical impedance.

Discovering Your BMI?

Dieticians, nutritionists and doctors employ the BMI to categorize your body weight. These medical professionals also use it to assess your personal risk for various serious conditions and diseases. If you want to measure your BMI, you are really looking at two separate measurements combined. These are your height and your weight. The formula is most effective for those who are more than 18 years of age and less than 65. You can discover your own BMI accurately by using this basic formula:

  • Step on your scale. Use a doctor’s scale or one at a gym. Weigh yourself to the closest pound. Be sure you are honest. Cheating is not permitted so no moving your scale two squares to the left and then back
  • Use a reliable measurement to obtain your height. If it is in feet, reduce it to inches.
  • Once you have these two figures you are ready for the next step. Take your registered weight and divide it by your height. This provides you with the initial figure you need to learn your BMI
  •  Once you have this result multiply it by the number of 703
  • The final product will be your personal BMI number

If you have a calculator – there is one on all computers – you can perform the BMI search manually. Many different authors writing on dieting, nutrition, weight loss plans and obesity include charts as a matter of course.2

The BMI result for a normal or average weight for male or female should lie between 18.5 and 24.9. If you are less than the lowest figure, you are considered underweight with the possibility of developing osteoporosis and various eating disorders including anorexia. If your BMI ranges from 25 to 30, you are considered overweight. Your health risks will increase. If the BMI provided is more than 30, you are classified as obese. This will increase your risk for certain types of cancers, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gall bladder disease, heart disease and stroke.

Your BMI will be affected by age and, sometimes gender. It is not affected by race or ethnicity. Yet, while the BMI provides you with a fairly accurate portrait of your body weight, including fat ratios, it is not perfect. It misses certain aspects of overall body weight measurements. It is incapable of distinguishing between muscles and fat. It cannot indicate the atrophy of any muscles and their replacement with fat. It is also not able to tell you anything about the distribution of fat in your body. To accomplish this, you need to turn to other forms of measurement including that of your waist.

When Waist Size Matters

When it comes to weight, it is actually healthier to have more on your hips and thighs than on your waist. This gives a slight advantage to pear shaped women over their apple-shaped counterparts. Why is it important you even consider waist fatty deposits? Excess fat around your waist means extra stress placed upon many important internal organs.

If you want to know whether your fat is located on your waist – which, if you are a female, you are probably already aware of this – take a tape measure and measure it. Be sure to measure the narrowest point of your body’s trunk. This is usually just above your belly button. Do not as they crudely say “suck-in your gut.” You need to exhale and relax. Furthermore, do not pull the tape measure too tightly or grip it too loosely. Either variation will not give you a true reading.

The best reading is for a waist of less than 32”. For women, 31.5 is the maximum before they need to worry about excess fat.3 If it is higher, you will have an increased risk of several health problems, including the following:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Elevated cholesterol levels
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Some cancers
  • Hypertension

If you are Asian, it is recommended that you use a lower waist size as the maximum measurement.

Unfolding the Language behind the Thickness of your Skin Folds

We almost all have or have had them at one time or another. These are those little skin folds. Usually, you find them rolling around your abdomen and elsewhere. In actuality, a skin fold test will involve approximately 7 different places on your body. These include:

  • Triceps
  •  Pectoral
  • Subscapula
  • Quadriceps
  • Abdomen
  • Thighs
  • Suprailiac

Determination of the thickness of these skin folds is discovered using a specific skin fold caliper. In order to take it further, to develop a specific percentage of body fat, you need to apply one of several possible equations. These are available online.

Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)

You often can find these machines located in gyms. Yet, they are also in the offices of many medical professionals. This electronic device operates as a diagnostic tool to discover what your body consists of in its entirety. You receive the results back for such things as phase angle, fat mass and body cell mass.

Whether you prefer BIA or stick to the BMI, you will quickly discover the fat measure of your body. In doing so, you will become aware of what the risks are for you and your health.


1 National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (2011). “Calculate Your BMI.” Retrieved from www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

2 American Heart Association (2011). No-Fad Diet 2nd Edition. New York: Clarkson Potter Publishers.

3 Beck, Leslie (2010). The Complete Nutrition Guide For Women. Toronto: Penguin Books.


The content provided on this site is for informational purposes only. Our content is not medical advice and you should seek a licensed physician or health professional regarding all health issues. WEIGHTLOSS.US takes no responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, or application of medication which results from reading this site.