The best (and worst) ways to measure body fat

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Nov 23, 2015
Quick Bites

  • There are many methods to measure body fat and composition.
  • Hydrostatic weight measurement is one of the oldest methods.
  • BIA is popular method of measuring body composition.
  • Digital fat meters are accurate, but expensive.

Numbers on a weighing scale do not give a fair idea about body fat. Just like weight check, there are ways you can monitor body fat. Body fat measurement is for everybody; be it those battling the bulge or those trying to get a measure of overall body composition.


measure fat


Skin-fold testing using calipers

Calipers are used at body parts to see how much fat there is in those areas. The body fat estimate is deduced after the reading is used in number of equations and formulae. It is one of the most effective methods for measuring body fat.

Hydrostatic weight

It is one of the oldest methods that used Archimedes’ principle to measure fat on the body. People, dunked in water, sit atop a scale. Their weight–both dry and submerged– and amount of water displaced are noted and then a formula is used to calculate the body's density. It is inconvenient and not the ideal method for fat measurement.

Bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA)

It is quite a popular method of measuring body composition. In BIA, an electrical current is applied to the body and then it is seen how quickly that current is conducted. Electrical signals give a measure of lean tissue and fat mass.


Digital fat meters

There are several digital devices that claim to give an estimate of your body fat, lean tissue, bone and mineral content. Most of these devices are accurate, but expensive.


Every fat measurement method has its drawbacks. It is good to know your true body fat percentage, but it's usually best to put your energy into exercise and diet than worrying about all the fat you have or will accumulate.


Image - Getty

Read more articles on Obesity.



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