I am curious on how the hand-held and scales work when measuring body fat.
There seems to be quite a difference, when measuring body, when I compare the percentage from one device to the next.
I know calipers and a water dunking are more accurate, however, what average should I consider with the tools I do have and use on a daily basis?
Regards, – Donna
The reason you are seeing so much difference in body fat percentage is that your hand-held device and scale estimate BF% based on the flow of energy from the contact point, through your body to the receiving point. (Fat impedes the flow whereas muscle helps it along.) This method is called bioelectrical-impedence analysis, or BIA for short. The equipment uses the path of least resistance. A hand-held analyzer’s flow is mostly through the upper body: hand up the arm, through upper torso, down other arm to hand. A scale analyzer’s flow is mostly lower body: foot up the leg, through lower torso, down other leg to foot. Depending on how fat is distributed throughout the body one can get varying results from the two types of BIA you describe.
Case in point: a pear-shaped person with lean arms, back and chest having more hip, thigh and buttock fat reads much lower BF% on a hand-held than on a scale analyzer. A person with an inverse triangle body shape might have his or her lower reading from the scale.
There are standing devices using foot and hand contacts which are more accurate as they assess segments of your body. These are stationary and quite expensive relative to the small portable BIA tools you’re accustomed to. A handful of our clubs have such equipment in place.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition?