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Body Fat Scale Accuracy: Do They Work and What Do They Measure?

Weight loss journey is all about science and the complexities of your body. It is not rocket science; tough but has many factors working together in harmony that finally help to lose weight. For the beginner, weight loss is being on a calorie deficit diet. Exercise regularly, eating healthy food, and having adequate sleep results in weight loss. The basic rule is the same, but it should be borne in mind that the above formula may not always work. Strict exercise regime and healthy food may not work to budge the scale. If so happens, then it’s time to assess your body fat percentage. It has been well documented with the health of scientific researches that for weight loss, measuring body fat is as equal as measuring overall weight since weight loss should be about losing weight in an organic way.

Body Fat Accuracy


What Makes Body Weight and Body Mass of Equal Importance?

In the context of body weigh scale and body mass, the relation between a healthy fat-to-muscle ratio should be understood. Healthy habits like exercise and high protein low carbohydrate diet can lead to more muscle building in the body. An increase in muscle can lead to the same figures on the weights or even higher. Therefore, it will only be safe to conclude that both body mass and body weight don’t contribute to assessing healthy body weight. It is that by measuring body fat, it can be ascertained that if you have a healthy fat-to-muscle ratio. Therefore, a body fat scale can help in measuring body fat. However, it is not a complete full-proof way to assess the success of your weight loss journey, but then a way to stay focused in between the visits to your doctor or personal trainer.

How Does Body Fat Scale Work?

Body fat scales are user-friendly devices that measure both body weight and the estimated fat percentage of the body. The tool works with the help of sensors that are underneath the feet that use bioelectrical impedance. As you step on the scale, a small electrical current moves up your body through the leg across the pelvis and measures the amount of resistance from body fat. The sensors in the scale measure the level of resistance that the small electrical current encounters as it travels back through the other leg. The rule here is greater body resistance implies that the fat percentage is higher. The resistance occurs due to the fact that fat contains less water than muscle; therefore, it is dense than muscle and current take higher time to travel through.

Accuracy of the Body Fat Scales

Although a body fat scale has sensors and is an advanced device still, it is not full-proof, and it provides rough estimates only rather than accurate figures. Body fat scales are dependent on several factors or variables, which can affect the results. The variables are as follows:

  • Gender- women tend to have more bodyweight fat as compared to men
  • Place of fat storage in the body
  • Age- the scales are not apt for children
  • Body built- height and stature of the body
  • Pregnancy- the scales must not be used by pregnant ladies
  • Endurance and resistance training.

Merits and Demerits of Body Fat Scales

The best merit of owning the body fat scale will be that from the comfort of your home, you can measure your body fat without having to travel to the gym or clinic. The scales are not accurate and not the sole measurement of overall health. The body fat scale doesn’t consider other variables of body fat. As per doctors, the position of the fat is more important to be accessed. If the fat is centered on the midsection, it can increase the risk of health conditions like health disease. The body fat scale only highlights the fat percentage and not the place where the fat is stored, which could be dangerous.

Body Fat v/s BMI

Body mass index (BMI) is a more dependable indicator for assessing the overall health in place of putting bets alone on body fat scale alone. However, BMI cannot measure fat, but it provides an overall picture if you are in the right weight range as per height and age.

There are online calculators for measuring the BMI, and there are categories as follows:

  • Below 18.5: Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9: Normal Weight
  • 25.0 – 29.9: Overweight
  • 30.0 and above: Obese

The demerit of relying on BMI is that it doesn’t measure body fat. If someone has a lot of muscle, they will have a higher BMI on the basis of weight and height.

Ways to Measure Body Fat Apart from Scale

The easiest way to measure body fat is the scale, but there are other ways to measure body fat percentage.

1) Waist measurement– the fat stored around the waistline can prove to have health hazards like:

  • Cardiovascular diseases
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Fatty liver disease

For women, the waist measurement if greater than 35 inches, and for man if its 40 inches, it proves to be an indicator of health hazards.

2) Calipers

Used by fitness professionals, calipers literally pinch your skin folds around the hips or waist to estimate the body fat. The accuracy of the method varies as per the expertise of the person taking the measurement.

3) Handheld Fat Measurement Devices

It is a similar process to body scale with the difference that it doesn’t measure weight. The sensors are placed on either side of the device that measures the body fat when the device in front of you. It is the most accurate method, but then it’s not easy to find and its expensive.

4) Dual Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry (DEXA) Scans

it is used to measure bone mass for osteoporosis diagnoses. DEXA scans is more reliable as compared to BMI. The scans are expensive and is not covered by insurance.

5) Underwater weight test

Fat floats more easily than muscle based on the buoyancy and your weight; the person can measure body fat. The method is accurate but is not available everywhere and can be a little uncomfortable also.


Using air displacement plethysmography (ADP) the body fat is measured. It is available at some fitness centers and medical facilities. It is a bit pricey test and is not easily available everywhere.

Concluding Words

Body fat scale depending on the method used, and the other variables considered it generates results. At the end of the day, using all the six different methods to actually calculate body fat percentage, one can always expect to get fairly accurate results. But, bear in mind that, once you have a look at the results, it all depends up to you, how you want to proceed forward with your fat trimming process.

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