Body composition analysis is a physical test that measures the proportion of the various components of a person’s body. The human body is comprised of water, protein, fat, and minerals but in general, most body composition analysis tests measure the ratio of fat to lean tissue. Body fat, or adipose tissue, has chemical and physical properties that allow for a number of analytical methods, each with its own advantages and limitations. The most common forms of body composition analysis are the body mass index (BMI), skin fold caliper testing, bioelectrical impedance, and hydrostatic weighing.
Normal body fat measurements are generally considered to be 18-30% for women and 15-25% for men. If fat levels fall any lower, there is a lessened ability to cushion organs and store certain vitamins, and an increased risk of osteoporosis. Any higher, and there is a risk of cardiovascular disease. Where a person optimally falls within the normal range is dependent on many variables, including genetics, activity level, and life stage.
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