Body Composition Analysis FAQ

Q: How accurate and reliable are readings using Tanita’s Body Fat Monitor/Scales?

A: Independent research at several major universities (including Columbia University in New York City) has confirmed that in clinical settings, the Tanita Body Fat Monitor (i.e. the monitor used by FMJ) is accurate within +/- 5 percentage of the institutional standard of body composition analysis–Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA). It should be made clear that there is only one method of calculating body composition that is close to 100% accurate, and that is an autopsy. Tanita believes its method to be the most convenient and accessible to accurately predict body composition. Tanita’s Body Fat Monitor Series results are repeatable to within +/- 1 percent variation when used under consistent conditions.

Q: Why is it important to monitor body fat percentage?

A: Measuring weight alone is not a completely accurate assessment of health or fitness because it doesn’t distinguish weight that come from fat and weight that come from lean muscle mass. Everyone needs some body fat, but too much fat results in obesity–one of the most important public health issues in Australia. According to recent figures, 3 in 5 adult Australians and 1 in 4 children are now overweight or obese (source: http://www.aihw.gov.au/overweight-and-obesity/)

Q: Are there any illnesses directly linked to obesity?

A: Obesity is directly linked with Diabetes Type II and hypertension, and is a contributing risk factor for many other conditions including heart disease, sleep disorders, arthritis, gall bladder disease, stroke, and several forms of cancer. Awareness and monitoring of body fat percentage can be a motivational tool for a fitness or weight management program. Additionally, with any chronic degenerative disease, monitoring body fat and lean body mass is critical to evaluation, treatment, and management of the condition. This information is helpful in determining a suitable exercise and nutritional program on an individual basis.

Q: Is it possible to have too little body fat?

A: Yes. Both extremes–too much or too little body fat–put an individual at risk for serious medical and/or psychological conditions. Having a very low body fat percentage, particularly for women, can result in musculoskeletal problems and osteoporosis. And it can upset the hormonal balance causing loss of menstruation. Striving for extremely low body fat can also result in severe eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and binge-eating which have significant health implications.

Q: Are there optimal conditions for determining body fat percentage using Tanita’s products?

A: Yes, there are:

  • Select a consistent time of day, and stick to it.
  • With an empty bladder
  • When normally hydrated
  • Early morning is not recommended because the body is often dehydrated after a night’s sleep. Once you have established your baseline, monitor body fat about twice a month. Checking body fat more frequently is not beneficial as changes occur slowly over time.

Things that can affect hydration include:

  • strenuous exercise
  • recent food intake
  • diuretics such as caffeine, alcohol, certain medications

Q: Are there people for whom the monitor is not appropriate?

A: People with pacemakers are advised not to use the monitors. Although there are no known health risks, this is a precaution that is advocated by all manufacturers of BIA. Accuracy is an issue for certain categories of people, but the units may still be used to monitor trends and accurately show degree of change. They include:

  • Pregnant women
  • People who exceed the weight capacity of the scale and/or exceed 75% body fat

Q: Is the Body Fat monitor safe to use for women who are pregnant?

A: There is no known health risks associated with pregnant woman using the Tanita Body Fat Monitor/Scales. Since research has not been done on this population extensively we advise women who are pregnant to use the Body Fat Monitors for weight purposes only. Since there are dynamic physiological changes that occur during pregnancy, a pregnant woman cannot expect an accurate body fat reading. Since obtaining an accurate reading during pregnancy is not possible, it would not be recommended to monitor your body fat until after delivery.

Q: Is the Body Fat Monitor safe to use if you have a medical device or implant?

A: Persons with pacemakers or other electronic medical implants should not use the monitor. Persons with non-electronic medical implants may safely use the monitor. Any metallic implant in your body could affect the body fat reading, giving a slightly lower than normal reading. However, since the metal will continue to have the same affect on the reading each time you use the monitor; you can still use the monitor to successfully track the relative change in body fat over time.

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