Body Fat vs BMI

Body fat percentage (BFP) can provide a more accurate picture of your health and fitness than weight or BMI (Body Mass Index) alone.

Where BMI falls short

Because a BMI calculation only requires height and weight, it is an inexpensive and easy tool for analyzing large population groups or as an initial screening tool. However, because BMI does consider body type or distinguish fat from muscle and BMI reference ranges are not gender or age-specific, it fails to provide the detail and context needed to determine actual health risks.

Even if two people have the same weight and BMI, their level of body fat may differ significantly. For example, at the same BMI:

  • Women tend to have more body fat than men;
  • Older people, on average, tend to have more body fat than younger adults;
  • Athletes tend to have less body fat than non-athletes because of increased muscularity rather than increased body fatness.

Body fat percentage as a better risk indicator

Because body fat percentage distinguishes fat from muscle and uses gender and age-specific reference ranges, it is a more useful tool for determining health risks.
Also, tracking body fat percentage over time is a great way to see your health and fitness progress when weight and BMI alone can fail to show progress as you lose fat and gain muscle.

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