ASSESSING BODY MASS INDEX, BODY COMPOSITION, AND BODY FAT DISTRIBUTION
Although a scale can tell your total weight, it can’t reveal whether a fluctuation in weight is due to a change in muscle, body water, or fat. Most important, a scale can’t differentiate between overweight and overfat. Some methods of assessing and classifying body composition are based on body fat and others on total body weight. Methods based on total body weight are less accurate, but they are commonly used because body weight is easier to measure than body fat. (Various methods of assessing body composition are described later in the chapter.)
ASSESSING BODY MASS INDEX, BODY COMPOSITION, AND BODY FAT DISTRIBUTION Photo Gallery
In the past, many people relied on height/weight tables (which were based on insurance company mortality statistics) to determine whether they were at a healthy weight. Such tables, however, can be highly inaccurate for some people. Because muscle tissue is denser and heavier than fat, a fit person can easily weigh more than the recommended weight on a height/weight table. For the same reason, an unfit person may weigh less than the table’s recommended weight. female athlete triad A condition consisting of three interrelated disorders: abnormal eating patterns (and excessive exercising) followed by lack of menstrual periods (amenorrhea) and decreased bone density (premature osteoporosis).
There are a number of simple, inexpensive ways to estimate healthy body weight and healthy body composition. These assessments can provide you with information about the health risks associated with your current body weight and body composition. They can also help you establish reasonable goals and set a starting point for current and future decisions about weight loss and weight gain.
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