Healthy Body Fat Percentages Are Different For Men And Women
Any man or woman who is concerned about his or her weight can find tons of information online. The problem is that there is so much information, it can be difficult to decipher. There are many recommendations for ideal weight, body fat percentage and Body Mass Index or BMI. It is important to understand that these are all different things and that the percentages are different for men and women. The National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization have recommendations for body fat percentages for both genders.
“Please do not confuse these numbers with the BMI (Body Mass Index) scores, which are not the same thing.: – LowCarbDiets.About.com
Some health experts claim that body mass index is the most accurate way of telling the total effects of weight on general health. Most medical research today uses BMI as a prime indicator of just how healthy someone is and their risk for specific diseases. The CDC provides ranges for healthy BMI values for adult men and women. In general, underweight is a BMI of less than 18.5 while obese is a BMI of 30 or greater. Healthy ranges fall in between with optimal ranges being between 18.6 and 24.9.
Other health experts however, feel that body fat percentages are a better way of determining the overall health of a person and their risk for developing certain diseases. Tammy Callahan, marketing manager for Life Measurement, Inc. says that body fat percentage numbers are a much better indicator of overall health.
“The BMI numbers are way too general to be really useful. These numbers were developed using data from enormous numbers of people.” – WebMD.com
BMI numbers tend to be collected using data from large numbers of people so they are unable to tell about the composition of an individual’s body. They cannot tell how much of the total weight of a person is actually fat and how much is actually tissue and muscle. It is however, a fact that BMI can tell a lot about the risk of certain individuals for developing some diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, so many experts still rely on BMI in order to determine overall general health. As a general rule, as the BMI raises, so does the risk for developing certain diseases. Even though many people rely on BMI however as a general health indicator, more and more research is being done on body fat percentage and how well it can determine overall health.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in 2000 that showed body fat percentages may be a much better way of measuring risks against certain diseases. Steven Heymsfield, MD conducted the survey which took more than 1,600 people from different backgrounds and studied the effects of body fat on their general health.
“What we did was correlate body-fat percentage to BMI, allowing us to take the first big step toward linking body-fat percentage to disease risk. This new research reveals the value of assessing body fat more directly using the latest scientific technology to measure body-fat percentage.” –HealthAndWellness.Vanderbilt.edu
Many studies have shown that weight alone will not help to predict the level of body fat that is found in an individual. Knowing what that body fat percentage is and how it correlates to certain ages and genders is important in gaining good overall health. Lower body fat percentages can equal lower risks for developing heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and a number of other serious medical conditions. It can also help to increase energy levels and overall body function.
The numbers are different for men and women. Women who are between 20 and 30 years of age should have a body fat percentage of no more than 24 percent. Men in this age group should keep their body fat percentage below 18 percent. The numbers tend to increase a bit as age increases but in general, men should always have a lower body fat percentage than women in order to be considered at optimal health.
Lowering body fat percentages can be as easy as walking for just 30 minutes 5 days each week. Moderate activities will help to keep fat percentages down as will eating healthy. Diets rich in whole grains and that include no fewer than five fruit and vegetable servings every day are best. Fast food and processed foods should be avoided whenever possible and although not required for healthy body fat numbers, weight training can be done up to three times each week for optimal results.