Why body composition matters far more than weight
Body weight and Body Mass Index (abbreviated as BMI – a calculation of weight in proportion to height), are poor indicators of how healthy you are. Most people know of a muscular person who would be considered “obese” using the BMI and you may also know of people who technically fall within a healthy weight range, but who visibly carry extra weight around their belly. When it comes to health risk, what you really need to know is this:
- How much of your body is muscle?
- How much of your body fat? and
- Where exactly is that fat distributed (eg. around your organs or elsewhere)?
Even people who fall within a healthy weight range (according to their BMI) can be at high risk of diabetes and heart disease if they have a high proportion of body fat, especially if a lot of that fat is stored around their organs (called visceral fat). Up until recently, skin calipers were the only way that members of the general public could get an estimate of their body fat. However, there has recently been a huge boom in the availability of body composition scales, so knowing your percent body fat is now easier than ever. There are limitations, however.
With skin calipers, a trained person measures the thickness of skin folds taken at various points on the body. The reliability very much depends on the person doing the measuring. You definitely want someone experienced in taking skin-fold measurements and you want the same person doing the measurements each time.
Body composition scales work by passing a very weak, harmless electrical current through your body and making assumptions and calculations as to your body composition based on this. The process is called Bioelectrical Impedence Analysis and is highly influenced by your hydration status. Exercising, eating a large meal, dehydration or menstruation will all influence the results you get with a body composition scale. The best advice is to try and take the measurement at the same time of day, and to eat, drink and exercise a similar amount on those days to make the results comparable. At-home body composition scales are often inaccurate, but the Tanita Body Composition Scale at Core is claimed to be within +/- 5% of measurements taken by Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), which is the most accurate way to measure body composition.
Core is happy to offer you both methods for having your body composition checked. Rob Butler, our body composition coach/sports therapist, is very experienced at using skin calipers to calculate your percent body fat. Sheri Taylor, Dietitian/Nutritionist is able to weigh you on our Tanita Body Composition Scales and explain the results to you. Please contact our reception team at 01926 801 111 to make a booking with either of these professionals.