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Other Measurement Tools and BMI Statistics

Other Ways to Measure Body Fatness

The BMI score is valid for both men and women, but it does have some limits. When it is used to calculate body fatness:
  • It may overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build.
  • It may underestimate body fat in older people and others who have lost muscle mass.
Besides BMI, there are a number of different ways to measure body fatness. These other methods include:
  • Skinfold thickness measurements (with calipers)
  • Underwater weighing
  • Bioelectrical impedance
  • Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA)
  • Computerized tomography.
These other methods of measuring body fatness are more accurate than BMI. However, these methods are not always readily available, and they are either expensive or require highly trained personnel.

Healthy BMI and the United States

Nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight (defined as having a BMI equal to or greater than 25). This comes to about 130 million American adults. Nearly 61 million adults are obese (defined as a BMI greater than or equal to 30).
Even more concerning is that approximately 15 percent of children and adolescents are overweight and another 15 percent are at risk for being overweight (BMI for age between the 85th and 95th percentile). Child obesity is a growing concern in today's world. An alarming number of children are obese and developing diseases normally seen in adulthood.
Less than half of U.S. adults have a healthy BMI. This is equivalent to about 68 million adults. About 37 million women between the ages of 20 and 74 have an ideal BMI. About 31 million men between the ages of 20 and 74 have an ideal BMI.
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