Daily Archives: January 10, 2016

What are alternative methods for measuring body fat analysis obesity

As we discussed yesterday, the BMI method of determining obesity is the shotgun approach. Many people are designated obese when they are just overweight. Many more are of norrmal weight, but classified as overweight based on the BMI.

No one will argue being obese is healthy, but when the BMI measurement is used for everything from recreational activities to insurance rates, you need to step back and take a look.

And that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll examine a few of other ways to determine obesity in your life that don’t rely on BMI. These methods are typically more accurate as they take into account many factors.

Underwater weighing: This is the number one measurement in the scientific community for rating obesity. It involves a large tank of water and a chair that can lift the person in and out. Prior to going into the water the person is weighed. They then get on the chair and they are submerged in the water then weighed.

There are a few of considerations:

1) The person needs to exhale all the air out of their lungs, as this may affect results.

2) The person needs to be completely submerged.

3) The water must come to a stand still.

Yes, it’s onerous and a series of multiple readings is necessary.

Because muscle and bone have a higher density than water you will weigh more in the water. Using mathmatical calculations you can remove the any question and get the proper obesity factor. This is due to the the fact the density of fat is constant.



Skin calipers: This is called the pinch test among the casual observers. You select 4-8 test sites and use a caliper to pinch your fat. The fat right under your skin is always in a ratio with the fat deeper down. When you get the measurements you can use a formula to find your obesity level.

If you’re serious about this it’s best to have a professional do this. The home calipers you can get aren’t as sensitive and someone trained in caliper usage will have better results.

DXA: DXA is the Star Trek technology to measure obesity. The real long name is dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and yes, I copied and pasted that. Imagine laying on a table with an arm above you. It’s like the old projectors teachers used to show diagrams in class.

It works by shooting two x-rays at your body. The x-rays have different energy levels, so the machine can deduce how much of the energy is absorbed by different parts of your body. This will lead to your obesity level.

The bummer is that this is not wide used in clinical settings yet.

So, there you have three scientific ways to measure obesity that don’t rely on a formula developed a long time ago, and doesn’t take into consideration unique physical traits.

How does the food industry deflect blame for obesity

I have no idea who the Center for Consumer Freedom are or their purpose, but I do know they are funded by restaurants and food industries. I mention this only as a prelude to the article entitled, “Blame The Couch, Not Food Industry, For Obesity.” Hold your nose, because it gets worse than the title.

Let’s step back first and look at their website. Choose the Obesity Debate section. And I thought I was carrying the torch for obesity defiance. At least I realize obesity is a societal, health and personal issue. The folks at Consumer Freedom would like you to believe obesity really doesn’t exist. While I do like and agree with their stance on government intervention into food choices, I don’t think I can accept some of their opinions.

Anyway, back to the article. With a title like that you would think this is a defense piece. It is, but they do a good job explaining the sedentary part of our lives:

Sure, there have been some changes between our meals and those of our grandparents. But the most radical transitions over the past decades have transpired not in our cooking, but in other pastimes.

They don’t consider the impact of high fructose corn syrup in diets, but they do have a point. They go on to say:

It may sound trivial. Yet, even a small convenience that keeps us from burning 50 calories each day-like emailing a co-worker instead of walking to her office-can tack on more than five pounds annually.

It is trivial and sort of silly. I like fun math as much as the next person, but you cannot apply a blanket formula to everyone’s metabolism. Such a small calorie expentidure is made up by the better foods mentioned earlier in the article.

The final line is the one that brings it all home:

Personal responsibility is a much harder pill to swallow.

Exactly. Very few people are naturally obese. There is a difference between being predisposed to obesity and leading a lifestyle of obesity. There are medical issues that cause obesity, but a very small percentage of people suffer them. The vast majority have made personal lifestyle changes that lead them to obesity. Now, if only the Center for Consumer Freedom would discuss how their industry has contributed to this through ingredient, pricing and advertising we might get somewhere.


Does prosperity cause obesity

  • Food is more readily available. Prior to the 1900s a vast majority of people had to perform some sort of manual labor for their food. Whether growing it or working as a laborer, you had to move your body to make money. This was so much the case that people who were obese were revered. They were seen as rich, powerful. Today, hardly anyone has to work the land for their food nor are most people engaged in manual labor.
  • Food choices are more wide ranging. Prior to the advent of grocery stores you were forced to eat what was available locally. If no one in the area farmed potatoes, you didn’t eat potatoes. If you didn’t have money you couldn’t afford many baked sweets. Today, almost everyone has access to a great offering of foods from around the world.
  • Industrialization of food. Prior to the mid-1900s the ability to preserve foods, especially perishable items, from creation to sale wasn’t available. With all the preservatives came longer shelf life. With longer shelf life came a focus on profits. With a focus on profits came the search for cheaper, more often less healthy, ingredients. High fructose corn syrup is a great example if this.
  • Toy development. Up until the 1970s most of the cool toys for kids involved some sort of physical activity. Today, the toys that are the coolest don’t require physical activity nor do they require someone to go outside. This limits exercise and movement.

The consequences of this change upon our society is tremendous, but there is also an unmentioned factor in this. Self control. We’re sufficiently advanced to know that losing weight is an easy proposition … eat less calories than your body demands. Where does this lack of self control come from? I don’t know, but I have a few ideas I’ll share in the future.