Where health is concerned, too much body fat can be dangerous. It’s important to realize that people can have too much body fat even though they are not overweight. If too much of a person’s weight is fat, and not muscle, the person is considered to be overfat.
Just how much of a person’s weight should be fat varies between males and females. For men, the ideal percentage of body fat is 12 to 17 percent. Women naturally have more body fat than men, so their ideal percentage is 15 to 23 percent. Having too much body fat can affect a person’s health by contributing to high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes or cancer.
The best way to determine whether a person is overfat is to measure the body fat by one of two methods:
- weighing the body underwater
- using small, hand-held devices called skinfold calipers to measure the fat at specific sites on the body.
Underwater weighing is the most accurate way to measure body fat but it requires special equipment and is used mostly by research scientists at universities.
Measuring body fat with skinfold calipers is easier and more accessible to the average person. Many health clubs, universities and hospital health programs offer skinfold testing.
The validity of the techniques that use bioelectrical impedance or infrared instruments has not been established yet. More research is needed on these methods.
If you’d like to learn more about how body fat affects you personally, talk to your healthcare provides Find out if your local hospital, university or health club offers skinfold tests.