The percentage of an individual's weight which is fat is how you can really tell how fat you are because the popular BMI doesn't take many important factors into account like gender, how much muscle you have and how heavy your bones weigh. BMI is figured on weight alone and is most accurate for a 5'3" small boned woman..
The problem is measuring bodyfat percentage is either messy (like getting dunked - holding your breath, emptying your lungs - not a real pleasant experience for most of us) or getting callipered by a professional. Some professionals are quite good and can come pretty close to the figure you would obtain by getting dunked. And others - we won't talk about. With the recent study showing 'certified personal trainers' as less than qualified, finding someone to caliper you seems a hit or mess operation.
True to their form, American manufacturers have come up with a solution. How does this sound? - a scale just like the one you weigh on, where you step on it and it registers your bodyfat? Heaven, Nirvana?
Unfortunately the Tanita bodyfat percentage scale delivers far less than it promises. It turns out that if you read the small print on the box, it only takes the bodyfat percentage of your lower body!
So if you are a woman with most of your fat packed on your hips, guess what - you will read way high. And if you are a guy with most of your fat packed on your tummy, you might come out very low.
How does this come out in numbers? Recently a friend of mine decided to check it out. First he was dunked (the most accurate gauge of bodyfat percentage). He came out at 9 percent. Then he weighed and measured on a Tanita scale. He came out 16 percent bodyfat which means that the Tanita scale measured him at 56 percent greater amount of bodyfat than he really is. (You could probably take 56 percent of what you come out on a Tanita scale to get a more accurate number).
Tanita scales might be ok for comparing bodyfat loss but if you want to go to the bank with the actual number, best to do it accurately and get "dunked". The test costs $20 and trucks often show up at fitness facilities to offer this service. Bring your bathing suit! :)