Body Fat vs. Body Mass

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In this week’s Personal Health column, Jane Brody writes about why the traditional measure of a healthy weight, the body mass index, is not always reliable for determining whether someone is carrying too much fat. She writes:

Degree of body fatness is a better way than body mass to classify individuals. Both the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health define obesity as more than 25 percent body fat in men and more than 35 percent body fat in women. So “a woman who is 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighs 120 to 125 pounds could be quite fat,” Dr. Lavie told me, “even though her weight and B.M.I. seem O.K.”

Among Americans in general, he said, “a six-foot, 250-pound man will be obese, but if he were an N.F.L. lineman of 6-foot-3 weighing 280 pounds, he might be solid muscle with only 2 percent body fat.”

To learn more, read the full story, “Weight Index Doesn’t Tell the Whole Truth,” and then please join the discussion below.