BMI or Body Fat Percentage-Which is better?


Since the time humans have started paying attention to a number called “Weight” , BMI has been the go to tool to decide whether a person is healthy or not.

BMI , body mass index depends on 2 things Height and Weight.

BMI which is

<18.5 – Underweight

<25 – Normal

25-30 – Overweight

>30 – Obese

Read more about BMI here.

Another alternative to measure ideal weight and health is Body Fat Percentage. This is relatively new kid in town.

Now the question arises –

BMI or Body Fat Percentage-Which is better?

A lot of experts have questioned whether BMI is an accurate tool for measuring people’s state of health. You may ask why ! Its very simple.  A sportsperson and a sedentary person can have same BMI ! How cruel is that 😀 ?

Body Fat percentage on the other hand, is measured by using calipers or methods like DEXA scan or  bioelectrical impedance analysis.


BMI just cares about height and weight whereas body fat index tells you exactly how much fat your body has. A person with high bone density could have a high BMI but his/her body fat percentage will exactly describe his/her health and fitness level.

What is the ideal body fat percentage?

Men and women are different and so are their need body fat percentage changes which changes with age.

For men

Age 20-40 years –  8-19%. Above 25% indicates obesity.
Age 41-60 years –  11-22%.Above 27%  is a cause for concern.
Age 61-79 years –  13-25% body fat. Above 30%  indicates obesity.

For women

Age 20-40 years –  21-33%. Above  39% indicates obesity.
Age 41-60 years –  23-35%. Above 40% indicates obesity.
Age 61-79 years –  25-37% body fat. Above 42% indicates obesity.

The below chart will give you an idea how shape of your body varies with increasing body fat percentage.

body fat percentage

Therefore, Body fat percentage is a more accurate but like I said, it needs callipers or technological method. Could be expensive as well. BMI on the other hand, is non fussy and inexpensive , though may not be an accurate measure of your health and fitness level !

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    • You dont need it ! I wish I could transfer my fat to ppl like you 😉
      Btw, you can get it tested in any good gym or clinic where they do body composition analysis. Their report clearly calculates body fat percentage.

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