It’s always common to assess “how in shape you are” from the size of your gut. Most people would assume excess body fat (and abdominal fat) has serious health consequences, and you’re right! It can contribute to increased risk for: disability, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis and depression.
While most people are focused on their overall weight, studies have shown that abdominal fat should be a bigger focus and has a higher correlation to the previously mentioned health risks.
There’s a variety of methods available to measure your body. Most commonly used, is a Body Mass Index (BMI). While this test is easy to do on your own, it can be very misleading. BMI is calculated simply using your height and weight, but it isn’t considering what that weight is made up of.
For example, an elite athlete with very high lean muscle mass can score in the “obese” to “morbidly obese” category with BMIs in the 30s. In reality, this athlete actually has a very low body fat percentage.
On the contrary, BMI can fail to represent an adult accurately that has lost substantial amounts of muscle mass. This person can still appear “skinny” but just have low muscle, a lower “healthy” weight showing on the scale, but have a high body fat percentage.
Visceral fat is directly correlated to cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Often labeled the “deadly fat”, this important measurement goes unnoticed on a BMI, scale and most body composition assessment tools (BodPod, skin calipers, hydrostatic weighing). This fat surrounds internal organs in the abdomen. It slowly constricts them, making it more difficult to function on a daily basis. Visceral fat begins to place extra effort on the heart, ultimately leading to increased risk for a variety of heart issues.
Harvard Health recently shared an article indicating that people measure their “waist to hip” ratio. Studies have indicated that as a male’s ratio increases above 0.95 and a female’s ratio increases above 0.85, so does their risk for suffering a heart attack or stroke.
You can tape measure around your hip and then again around your belly button to get an assessment of abdomen (android) to hip (gynoid). However, there is error with being able to repeat this in the exact same fashion over and over. It also isn’t assessing body fat percentage in these two areas (fat v. muscle). Simply measuring the circumference of these areas can indicate where you’re at, but miss the target on an exact answer.
The most accurate methods to assess abdominal fat are computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Both of these methods are typically very expensive, time consuming and inaccessible.
Right behind these measuring methods, is a total body composition DEXA Scan. A DEXA is widely used for bone density analysis. It has quickly risen worldwide as the Gold Standard in body composition analysis, providing accurate and repeatable results to best track progress.
It also provides an abdomen (android) to hip (gynoid) ratio, along with visceral fat. This way you can track overall body fat percentage, abdominal fat, and visceral fat with one 10 minute test.
Apex Performance Wellness & Rehab creates healthier communities by helping people Champion Their Body. Along with DEXA Scans for body composition analysis, they also have resting metabolic rate (RMR) and VO2 Max testing. All three of tests combined arm people with the data they need to make a change for the better in their body composition.
Is an injury or chronic pain holding you back from achieving new heights? Apex provides a state of the art facility, equipped with weights, functional area and turf for their Doctor of Physical Therapy to get you back on track and Champion Your Body.
Start your journey today!