BMI chart unreliable for regular exercisers

While technology advances more and more every year, people are constantly searching for new techniques to test body fat and stay in shape.

The scale is the most convenient way that people measure their body fat, but a scale is not as accurate as some of the other ways that body fat is measured.

Though some ways people measure body fat are better than others, health, physical education and recreation professor Dr. Lee Renfroe said, “There are problems with any body fat measuring technique.”

Many people are familiar with the Body Mass Index test which uses height and weight to determine BMI.

“The BMI is only good to use for the average person, but for a regular exerciser it’s not the way to go,” said health, physical education and recreation professor Dr. Joyce McIntosh.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Normal weight is a BMI of 18-24, overweight is 25-30 and obese is a BMI of 30 plus.”

According to the American Obesity Association, “64.5 percent, or 127 million Americans, are currently overweight. More than 30 percent of those who are overweight are obese and almost 5 percent are severely obese.”

“BMI has been used to measure body fat for the past 200 years,” said Dr. Richard Bergman of the University of Southern California. “But the Body Adiposity Index test may be the new way people test their body fat.”

People today are trying to get into shape, and the BAI test will be a more accurate way for people to know if they are overweight or underweight.

“The BAI relies on height and hip measurements, and is meant to offer a more flexible alternative to BMI testing,” according to WebMD.

Neither Dr. Renfroe nor Dr. McIntosh had heard of the new way of testing for body fat.

McIntosh, who does most of the body fat testing for UNA’s athletes, said, “We use skinfold calipers to measure the body fat.”

McIntosh said, “Some of the advantages of using skinfold measurement are that by using the right locations on your body they are more accurate than the BMI and even a regular scale.”

Obesity is a growing factor in America right now, and being in shape and at a normal weight is important.

“The skinfold calipers are fairly cheap and can be bought at many health stores, and you can test your body fat in the comfort of your home,” Renfroe said.

The BAI test may be the new way for Americans to test their body fat, but for UNA athletes skinfold calipers will remain the main way HPER professors test athletes body fat.