Body Fat Percentage and BMI

By Bridget Bigale PTA 

What You Need to Know About Body Fat Percentage and BMI

Often in today’s world, many individuals perseverate on the number they see when  stepping onto a scale. Monitoring your body fat percentage is a good first step to better understand how your body fat percentage may be affecting your health. However despite what many may believe about fat, body fat actually plays an important role in our overall health and longevity. Some of the highlighted roles of body fat include:

  • Storing energy
  • Releasing hormones that control appetite
  • Affecting key inflammatory responses
  • Affecting the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
BMI is important in orthopaedics

Illustration of Man on a Couch With BMI Labels

When Does Body Fat become a Problem?

When body fat starts to become an issue is when those essential fat cells begin to grow in size or number as a result of taking in too many calories. This increase in fat cell number and size causes excess fat storage in areas of the body that can decrease the body’s sensitivity to insulin and cause chronic inflammation as well as change our overall body image. Having a high percentage of body fat is a health condition defined as obesity. Obesity is the second highest preventable cause of death in America.

What is BMI?

BMI stands for Body Mass Index, and is a tool that healthcare professionals use to estimate an individual’s percentage of body fat. BMI is a measurement of someone’s weight in kilograms divided by their height in square meters. Healthcare professionals often use BMI as a screening instrument for various health impairments. It is important to highlight that BMI is not a diagnosis of obesity or high body fat. Nevertheless, a higher BMI can indicate a higher percentage of body fat being stored in the body.

Sometimes in orthopaedics, a physician may want a patient to be below a certain BMI before doing surgery for safety reasons.

How do I Know If I Have a Healthy BMI?

As stated above you can calculate BMI by taking weight in kilograms divided by height in square meters. There are four areas of classification for adults once BMI is calculated. When calculating BMI for children, age and growth factors are taken into consideration by doctors as children will continue to grow. When calculating a BMI for adults, individuals over the age of 20 can use this chart below to better understand their estimated body fat percentage and how that corresponds to their health.

Table showing the body mass index and Body Fat Percentage of what is considered healthy. JOI Rehab

BMI Scale

Is BMI an Accurate Measurement of Health?

Though BMI can be a quick and helpful tool that gives insight into one’s body fat percentage, it is not a diagnostic measurement of high body fat. There are various factors that can affect one’s weight and body fat such as:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Amount of muscle mass
  • Genetics

Tools for Measuring Body Fat Percentage

To get a true measurement of body fat percentage there are various tools, such as a DEXA scan, that can break down one’s body composition more accurately. BMI is a good indicator that one may have a high body fat percentage and is best utilized as a screening tool to help individuals monitor their weight and prevent obesity related health conditions. According to the CDC, those with higher BMI classifications are at an increased risk of experiencing health complications such as heart disease and stroke. If you have an interest in losing weight or have concerns about your BMI, follow up with your primary care health professional about healthy weight loss options that promote longevity and overall wellness!

Written By: Bridget Bigale PTA 

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When beginning to exercise for weight loss a proper warm up routine can help to prevent injury. Watch this video from JOI Rehab to learn a Dynamic Warm-Up Routine: To Get Ready for Your Workout!

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