The Difference Between Body Mass Index and Body Fat Percentage

There are several ways to determine the healthy weight of a person. Typically, Body Mass Index (BMI) and body fat percentage are the measurements used to understand an individual’s fitness. It helps the medical experts evaluate whether the person is at risk for health conditions such as heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, etc.

In this section, we will help you understand the difference between BMI and body fat percentage. So, let us begin!

What is Body Mass Index?

Body mass index or BMI is considered to be the most accurate method of determining the healthy weight of an individual. It is calculated based on the height and weight of the individual. There is an online tool such as a BMI calculator for men and women to determine this value. Based on the BMI value, one can fall under either on the following categories:

  • Underweight: BMI value of less than 18.5
  • Average: BMI value between 18.6 and 24.9
  • Overweight: BMI value between 25 and 29.0
  • Obese: BMI value over 30

However, the limitation of BMI calculation is that it is unable to distinguish fat body weight from muscle weight. Because of this, most people with average body weight tend to have a high body fat percentage – also known as normal weight obesity. A person falling under the average weight obesity category is as unhealthy as a person with a high BMI.

What is Body Fat Percentage?

Over the years, body fat percentage is providing significant results in determining a person’s fitness level. In fact, body fat percentage can distinguish fat from muscle and then determines the percentage of the body fat in a person. Compared to BMI, it gives a more accurate result on one’s healthy weight.

Here’s how body fat percentage ranges for men and women:

For women – 

  • Essential Fat: 0-12 percent
  • Athletes: 14-20 percent
  • Fitness: 21-24 percent
  • Acceptable: 25-31 percent
  • Obese: 32 percent+

For men –

  • Essential Fat: 2-4 percent
  • Athletes: 6-13 percent
  • Fitness: 14-17 percent
  • Acceptable: 18-25 percent
  • Obese: 26 percent+

The limitation to the body fat percentage method is that the measurement method to calculate the body fat in a person is not always equal. It most certainly cannot be categories in a definite range. However, more accurate methods are scientifically available but cannot be availed by everyone as they are expensive.

When body fat percentage and BMI are compared, the latter provides a good overview of a person’s health risk based on the weight. Plus, BMI is one of the health insurance premium determining factors in India. Insurers consider overweight or obese individuals as high-risk applicants and charge a high health insurance premium; whereas individual that fall under the average weight category benefit and get health insurance at an affordable premium.

Besides, maintaining a healthy BMI value will only allow you to lead a happy and long life. It will most definitely save you a fortune when buying insurance in India, but nothing compares to living a healthy life.

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