Now that we have discussed % body fat ad nauseum (a subject I was previously nearly indifferent about), I feel it's my duty to at least outline some interesting facts I've learned over the past few days (I have to thank Danni, PubMed and my many wise readers for their assistance)
- DEXA scans are more accurate than TANITAs and they tend to read higher since they detect even very small areas of fat (a 10.9% reading, for example, on a TANITA may be a 14-15% on a DEXA, similarly a 30% on a TANITA, would likely be above the WHO "healthy" range on a more accurate DEXA)
- DEXA scans were used in the ONE study (Gallagher et al. Am J Clin Nut 2000; 72:694-701) the WHO based its guidelines on and may explain why the range is shifted higher than one might expect if one is measuring body fat with a TANITA.
- If the general population is going to use TANITAs, a "healthy" range based off of DEXAs should not be given as a reference
- TANITAs are also not very precise and fluctuate a lot in the course of a day
- No body fat % reading alone should be interpreted as healthy or unhealthy, but should be looked at in the context of the whole health picture of a person, ideally with the assistance of a physician versed in working with % body fat (okay, I think we all knew this one to begin with)
- After doing a thorough browse though research over PubMed, I can find no studies that directly correlate % body fat with health outcomes, so it's significance in overall health status and mortality has yet to be determined SO AGAIN the % alone, should be interpreted with caution and only in the context of many other health factors (exercise, BMI, diet, confounding health conditions, etc.)
After all this, I am left wondering what sort of helpful information one could get out of % body fat readings. Any thoughts readers? I have to say, I think most of us know before we step on a Tanita generally how healthy & fit we are and it is hard to think of a circumstance where it would add anything. Okay, end of discussion, I guess.
My next post might be about something interesting. But I'm not making any promises.
Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.
"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman