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What are Body Fat Scales?

Article Details
  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 18 July 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Body fat scales are devices used to measure the amount of body fat a person has on his body. There are different types, styles, and brands of body fat scales, but they are all used to measure the user's body fat-to-weight ratio. A person's body fat-to-weight ratio indicates the approximate amount of body fat he has. For example, a person may weight 185 pounds (83.91 kg) and have 10 percent body fat. This would mean he has 166 pounds (75.29 kg) made up of muscle, bones, organ, blood, skin, and other parts of his anatomy while 18.5 pounds (8.39 kg) is body fat.

When using body fat scales and measuring body fat percentages, it's important to keep in mind that having some body fat is important for good health. For example, body fat is important for supporting reproduction. Women need more body fat than men because they bear children. They also need more for the support of certain hormonal functions.

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Many body fat scales are designed for consumers to use in their own homes. They work by sending a low-level current of electricity up a person's leg to the waist; the current is mild enough that the user doesn't feel it. The current then travels from the waist down the user's other leg. Electrical current flows quickly through the user's muscles and organs, which consist of a large amount of water, and slowly through fat, which doesn't conduct electricity as well. Once the current passes through the body, the scale uses a complex formula, including factors like the user's inputted age, height, and gender, to calculate the user's body fat percentage.

In general, body fat scales are thought to be fairly accurate. There are some issues that may call their results into question, however. For starters, different companies make different types of body scales, and each one may use a different formula for determining a person's body fat percentage. One scale may calculate body fat based on the user's weight and height while another may include other factors, such as the user's typical activity level. This can cause users to receive different percentages based on the scale in question.

Sometimes body fat scales can be influenced by things the user may have done before using them. If the user eats or exercises before using one, this may affect the reading. Likewise, the amount of water and other drinks a user has consumed may change the reading, as can bathing. To avoid skewed results, people should weigh themselves at the same time every day. It also helps to wait for at least 60 minutes to pass after working out.

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