Body Composition
How You Look

Body composition is a term used to describe the percentages of fat, bone and muscle in human bodies.

Body fat is measured as a percentage (body fat percentage) in relation to body size and weight in helping to judge overall health.

Because muscular tissue takes up less space in our body than fat tissue, our total composition, as well as our weight, determines how lean we appear.

Two people at the same height and same body weight may look completely different from each other because they have a different body makeup or composition.


Adipose tissue's main role is to store energy in the form fat, although it also cushions and insulates the body.

Obesity or being overweight in humans does not depend on body weight but on the amount of body fat- specifically adipose tissue of which two types exist: white adipose tissue (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT).

In humans adipose tissue is located beneath the skin and is found around internal organs and in specific referred to as "adipose depots".

Around organs, it provides protective padding and fulfills its main function of a reserve of lipids which can be burned to meet the energy needs of the body.

Fat is not just laid down when there is a surplus available and stored passively until it is needed; rather it is constantly being stored in and released from each cell.


Body composition can be measured in several ways:

  • Calipers: The most common way uses calipers to measure the thickness of subcutaneous fat in multiple places on the body (chest, abdominal area, thigh and buttocks).
  • Bioelectrical impedance analysis: Uses the resistance of electrical flow through the body to estimate fat.
  • Buoyancy: A more accurate but less convenient method of using a large tank of water to measure body buoyancy.

The National Institute of Health recommends that a healthy adult male's body should have between 13 and 17 percent fat and a healthy female's body should be composed of between 20 and 25 percent fat. Levels significantly above these amounts may indicate excess body fat and can cause health concerns.

Body composition plays a key component in what we call body image or how we look. But more importantly, excess adipose tissue on a human can lead to medical problems. Through proper nutrition (what we eat) and fitness activities (exercise) we can control body fat and increase our health and wellness levels.

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