Are you “skinny fat,” which is a person who is thin but has a high body fat percentage?
Are you a person who is considered “overweight” based on the weight on the scale but are actually very lean with a lot of muscle? Are you at a normal, healthy weight or are you truly overweight? How do you know?
The weight on the scale is a good starting point, but your percentage of body fat is a more accurate predictor of health.
While at the Glass City Marathon Expo, I met Dr. Sue Wambold, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Toledo.
She was there talking about Body Mass Index (BMI) and body fat percentages. BMI is used as a guideline for determining if a person is within a healthy weight range, overweight or obese.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, 68 percent of the U.S. adult population is now overweight or obese and the numbers are expected to continue to climb. The rate of overweight and obesity in our children and adolescents is increasing to epidemic proportions.
Why is this important? While a certain amount of body fat is necessary for good health, in order to protect internal organs, provide energy and regulate hormones, excess body fat is known to dramatically increase the risk of many diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, among others.
Dr. Wambold and I were discussing the Bod Pod, which is a piece of equipment used to measure body fat using air displacement plethymosgraphy, and the benefits of measuring body fat percentage using the Bod Pod versus skin calipers and underwater weighing.
Skin calipers are the most widely used method for determining body fat, but this method is not as accurate as underwater weighing and the Bod Pod because accuracy can vary depending on the skill of the tester.
Underwater weighing is considered the “gold standard” for measuring body fat percentages. With underwater weighing, you submerge yourself in a tank filled with water and based on the amount of water that is displaced, body fat and body density is calculated. The Bod Pod is different from underwater weighing because it uses air instead of water to measure body volume.
It is considered to be very accurate and is affordable as well. I was interested to see how I measured up, so I set up an appointment.
When I arrived, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would there be a bunch of students watching me as the procedure was done? Would I feel claustrophobic? Would it take a long time? I was about to find out.
I was greeted by Dr. Wambold and she explained the procedure to me and put me at ease. I was in a private room with her and was already dressed in a tight-fitting bathing suit. She had me step on a scale to determine my weight, and entered my weight, height, and age into the computer, and then calibrated the Bod Pod.
I simply had to get inside and sit and breathe normally as she closed it and began the test, which only took about 30 seconds. She repeated the test for a total of three times.
When it was finished, I got out and she printed out a report for me. The report not only included my body fat percentage and lean body mass, but it also listed my Resting Metabolic Rate, which is the number of calories needed to maintain my body weight if I were to just be at rest. It also listed the estimated calories I would need to maintain my weight if I am sedentary, low active, active or very active.
As for the body fat percentage, it said that I am in the fat level “acceptable for good health,” which was good news to me, after having once been at a level of Class III Obesity.
It was a very easy, quick, convenient, accurate and affordable way to determine body fat percentage.
It costs $20 to have your body fat percentage, lean body mass, and RMR tested.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment for testing in the Bod Pod, you can reach Dr. Wambold at 419-530-4688.
Jennifer Wagner is a Perrysburg High School graduate and current Perrysburg resident, who has an interest in health, nutrition, fitness and exercise-related topics after losing more than 120 lbs through Weight Watchers and exercise. She won first prize in the national Weight Watchers Inspiring Stories Contest and is being featured in the July issue of More Magazine. She was recently hired as a leader for Weight Watchers International.