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Technology measures fat to within a single gram

Bodyscan has revealed that body mass index or even body fat percentages are not the best measures of body fat, using data gathered from 6,000 scans.

Using dual-energy X-ray (DEXA) technology that measures body fat precise to a single gram, Bodyscan has shown that the best measure of fatness is a number most of us have never heard of – Fat Mass Index (FMI).

A person’s FMI is how much fat they carry for their height and it can only be established with a highly accurate measurement of the subject’s body fat as delivered by Bodyscan’s £100,000 DEXA scanners.

The accuracy of Bodyscan’s scan data shows that the measurements most people rely on all suffer from a fundamental problem.

“Weight, BMI and even body fat percentage are all single numbers trying to take account of two completely unrelated things – fat and muscle,” explains Philip Chant, managing director of Bodyscan. “As a result, they can all change without any change in body fat at all.”

Many people already know that body mass index (BMI) is unreliable because it doesn’t apply to muscular people and is inconsistent across ethnicities.

But even body fat percentage, which many people now obsess over and regard as the best measure of body fat, can hide the true picture because it, too, is skewed by muscle mass. That means someone’s body fat percentage can be low simply because they have high muscle.

“Bodyscan sees plenty of muscular gym-goers who have a low body fat percentage, but they fall off their chair when the DEXA body scan reveals they are actually carrying an unhealthy amount of fat,” says Chant. “That’s why fat mass index is so much better; it’s unaffected by muscle or total weight.

Bodyscan recommends a healthy FMI is between 3.5-6.0 for men and 5.0-7.5 for women.

Bodyscan’s DEXA technology also measures visceral fat, the dangerous unseen fat that lurks around organs and is linked to type-2 diabetes, heart disease and colon cancer.