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    Body fat percentage


    • The body fat percentage (BFP) of a human or other living being is the total mass of fat divided by total body mass; body fat includes essential body fat and storage body fat. Essential body fat is necessary to maintain life and reproductive functions. The percentage of essential body fat for women is greater than that for men, due to the demands of childbearing and other hormonal functions. The percentage of essential fat is 2–5% in men, and 10–13% in women (referenced through NASM). Storage body fat consists of fat accumulation in adipose tissue, part of which protects internal organs in the chest and abdomen. The minimum recommended total body fat percentage exceeds the essential fat percentage value reported above. A number of methods are available for determining body fat percentage, such as measurement with calipers or through the use of bioelectrical impedance analysis.

      The body fat percentage is a measure of fitness level, since it is the only body measurement which directly calculates a person's relative body composition without regard to height or weight. The widely used body mass index (BMI) provides a measure that allows the comparison of the adiposity of individuals of different heights and weights. While BMI largely increases as adiposity increases, due to differences in body composition, other indicators of body fat give more accurate results; for example, individuals with greater muscle mass or larger bones will have higher BMIs. As such, BMI is a useful indicator of overall fitness for a large group of people, but a poor tool for determining the health of an individual.

      Epidemiologically, the percentage of body fat in an individual varies according to sex and age. Various theoretical approaches exist on the relationships between body fat percentage, health, athletic capacity, etc. Different authorities have consequently developed different recommendations for ideal body fat percentages.

      This graph from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey in the United States charts the average body fat percentages of Americans from samples from 1999–2004:


      Description Women Men
      Essential fat 10–13% 2–5%
      Athletes 14–20% 6–13%
      Fitness 21–24% 14–17%
      Average 25–31% 18–24%
      Obese 32%+ 25%+

      • Brozek formula: BF = (4.57/ρ − 4.142) × 100
      • Siri formula is: BF = (4.95/ρ − 4.50) × 100
      • Gallagher, D; Heymsfield, SB; Heo, M; Jebb, SA; Murgatroyd, PR; Sakamoto, Y (2000). "Healthy percentage body fat ranges: An approach for developing guidelines based on body mass index". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 72 (3): 694–701. PMID 10966886. 
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