What is a Body Fat Monitor?

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  • Written By: T. Webster
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 21 July 2019
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A body fat monitor is used to calculate how much fat a person has or how much fat a person is losing while dieting and exercising in an effort to lose weight. The idea behind a body fat monitor is to get a picture of how much fat a person has in comparison to lean body mass. This is sometimes considered a more accurate picture of a person’s health than just considering their weight.

Body fat monitors traditionally have been used by fitness trainers or research facilities. Home devices generally are smaller and more affordable. In addition to measuring body fat, the monitors take into account information such as gender, age and weight. Whether at home or under the guidance of a fitness trainer, the information provided by a body fat monitor can be used to make adjustments to diet and exercise, and it can help ensure that the most effective fat-loss program is being used.

Being overweight and having too much body fat have long been traced to a variety of health problems. Among them are heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Even cancer has been linked to having too much body fat.


Body fat monitors vary in cost and how they work. Each kind also varies in its accuracy and ease of use. Some body fat monitors are combined with scales. A traditional home scale or doctor’s office scale cannot, by itself, measure body fat.

One of the most common types of body fat monitors is a Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis that sends a painless electrical current through the hands or feet. An electrical current travels faster through muscle than fat, and the resistance of the electrical current is used to determine the fat levels in the body. A slower-moving current indicates a higher level of body fat.

Another common body fat monitor is the caliper. This device is used to measure the thickness of a pinch of skin at various sections of the body. A chart is used to analyze the measurement reading and estimate the amount of body fat. The key to getting an accurate reading with a caliper is to take the measurements in exactly the same place every time.

The accuracy of all home body fat monitors is sometimes called into question. The results can be skewed by factors such as water retention, recent exercise activity and food intake. To get the best results, body fat readings should be compared over time, and steps should be taken to ensure that readings are done the same way and under the same conditions.



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