10 Pros and Cons of Body Fat Analysis


The number of obese and diabetic people in the world is at an all time high. More people are suffering from cardiovascular and respiratory problems than ever before. While healthcare has certainly become more proactive and certain, people are becoming more prone to dozens of common and a few rare ailments. Sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary choices are coupling to create an epidemic of sorts. Morbidity may have gone down and people are living longer but not healthily.

Obesity is a silent killer, much like higher blood glucose levels or diabetes and high blood pressure. Not surprisingly, they are all linked. Hence, it is best to attend to the basics, which is staying healthy, eating well and ensuring that you don’t have excess body fat. Analyzing body fat has become convenient and more accurate. You don’t need to spend a fortune to assess your body fat.

The need for body fat analysis is simple. Measuring how much you weigh is not the right indicator of whether you have a healthy weight or otherwise. You need to know how much of that weight is muscles and how much is fat, considering those are the two that keep fluctuating and thus influencing your weight. Measuring your waistline or randomly running a body mass index calculation will also not tell you how much fat you have. It is essential to conduct a body fat analysis.

Although modern technologies and assessment have helped in the evolution of body fat analysis, still there are certain shortcomings, especially depending on the method you choose. Here are five common methods used to analyze body fat and pros and cons of each type of body fat analysis.

List of Pros of Body Fat Analysis

1. Skin Calipers Advantages
The biggest advantage of this method of body fat analysis is the cost. You can buy this device at about ten bucks. Some brands may cost more. You can use this device yourself, get your trainer to run the test or you can consult a practitioner, dietician or technician who is trained to use these calipers. This device is ideal for those who have the penchant to keep testing every week or so. But it is advised to measure body fat once in a month or three months. Being obsessed with body fat is not going to help. Another advantage of this method is the time taken. You don’t have to spend hours. A few minutes are all you need.

2. Bioelectrical Impedance
Bioelectrical impedance equipments and monitors have become affordable. You may own it personally and you will come across these machines at gyms and clinics. Some weight scales also have such technology to measure body fat immediately. Using this method doesn’t need any training or prior practice. A push of a button is all that has to be initiated for the electrical probes to be sent through the tissues and returned to record the time.

3. Hydrostatic Weighing Benefits
This method is very accurate. It is used in researches and case studies. The method is not invasive and unless you are afraid of water, this is a great way to conduct body fat analysis.

4. DEXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry)
DEXA scans are very accurate. They can be used in any part of the body. You can also get specific measurements of certain areas. For instance, it is quite natural to have more fat in your left leg than right or vice versa. You can even get to know this difference using DEXA scans. The method is painless and very convenient. You don’t have to do anything. Hydrostatic weighing cons or challenges are done away with in DEXA scans.

5. Air-Displacement Plethysmography
This is a convenient method. It is suitable for kids, adults and the elderly.

List of Cons of Body Fat Analysis

1. Skin Calipers Disadvantages
The limitation of this method of body fat analysis is that it takes into account only a few areas. So the room for error is substantial. This shortcoming can be done away with if the same area is used time and again so one can gauge the increase or reduction in body fat over time. The second disadvantage is that a person may have little body fat in arms, chest and thighs and may have excess fat elsewhere in the body. That is not accounted for in this body fat analysis.

2. Bioelectrical Impedance Cons
Bioelectrical impedance is not very accurate. It works fast and that compels a compromise on accuracy. The concept isn’t perfect either. Other than fat, hydration levels or quantity of water in the body would also influence the response time and so would food and other factors. If you were to be tested after having a meal, your body fat analysis using this method would be very inaccurate. To get accurate results with this method, you must consult a practitioner who would tell you when you should have the last meal, how much fluid intake you should adhere to and there are other considerations or guidelines to factor in.

3. Hydrostatic Weighing Downfalls
You cannot do this yourself. It is unlikely that you would have the underwater scale needed for this method. You need a lab setting and a trained practitioner which will cost you money. If you are afraid of water or don’t like to be underwater for any reason, then this method may not be suitable at all or you may find it a tad inconvenient. Another disadvantage or challenge is that you have to gush out as much air as possible to empty your lungs. Else, the trapped air or inflated lungs would affect the readings and the eventual calculation. Not everyone can exhale heavily or forcefully to the extent that is deemed desirable.

4. DEXA (Dual-Energy X-Ray Absorptiometry)
DEXA scans can be quite expensive depending on where you live and how many centers or clinics you have around that would carry the kind of equipment needed. This is advanced technology and you may not have many options in your neighborhood or town.

5. Air-Displacement Plethysmography
There aren’t many places where such a method is used.