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Other Ways to Measure Body Fat and BMI Statistics

Other Ways to Measure Body Fatness

The BMI score is valid for most people, but it does have its limits. The test may:
  • Overestimate body fat in athletes and others who have a muscular build
  • Underestimate body fat in older people and others who have lost muscle mass.
There are a number of other ways to measure body fatness. These methods include:
  • Bioelectrical impedance
  • Underwater weighing
  • Dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA)
  • Skinfold thickness measurements (with calipers)
  • Computerized tomography (CT).
These other methods of measuring body fatness are more accurate than BMI. However, they are not always readily available, and they are either expensive or need highly trained personnel.

Important Statistics

Nearly two-thirds of adults in the United States -- about 130 million people -- are overweight (defined as having a BMI equal to or greater than 25). 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 percentiles). 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 people. 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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