In that position, I conduct health promotion appointments where we provide people with their biometric data. This information includes height, weight, body mass index, blood pressure and body fat percent. Additionally, we help people understand their health risks and offer suggestions on ways to help lower those risks. Many people are curious as to how this BIA device works. The BIA works by sending a small, harmless electrical signal throughout the body. Very Star Trek, I know!
Enter Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis (BIA)
Appointments at Mayo Clinic
If you buy something through a link on this page, we may earn a small commission. How this works. One way to assess your progress is to step on a body fat scale. Body fat scales are easy to use. You simply step on the scale, and the tool measures both your body weight and your estimated fat percentage. Such scales work with the help of sensors underneath your feet that use bioelectrical impedance. When you step on the scale, a small electrical current runs up through your leg and across your pelvis, measuring the amount of resistance from body fat. Then, the sensors in the scale measure the level of resistance that the current met as it travels back through your other leg.
Basics of BMI
Although the technology is improving, it's difficult to get an accurate body fat measurement from most commercially available body fat analyzers. Various types of body fat analyzers — also called impedance meters — are available to the general public. Results from portable body fat analyzers can vary depending on many factors, however, including the quality of the device and how hydrated you are when the measurement is taken. If you're concerned about your body fat percentage, skip the commercially available body fat analyzers and ask your doctor about the use of more accurate measurement techniques. Body fat can also be estimated using cross-sectional imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging MRI , nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and computerized tomography CT. These scans can provide the most precise body composition measurements, especially for intra-abdominal fat measurement. They are expensive, however, and are usually not indicated solely for measuring body fat.
Take a huge drink of water and watch your percentage change by up to 10 percent. While they are easy to use—just grab the handles and hold! Plus, they can't tell the difference between visceral and subcutaneous fat. The numbers are then tallied and plugged into a formula that estimates your body fat percentage based on your age and gender. Generally considered more accurate than the body fat percentage scales, results can vary widely depending on who is administering the test and his or her skill level. Plus, calipers can only measure subcutaneous fat. Here's what you need to know about the different types of fat and why they matter. It doesn't hurt, but it does require you to show a little skin tummy and thigh areas , and it's not something you can do yourself.