What is Body Fat and how does the Wellpoint measure it?

Body Fat is a measure of how much of your body is made up of fat cells. It’s given as a percentage. Some amount of body fat is necessary to stay alive. The ideal result varies a lot based on both age and gender, but as an example, a 35 year old woman should have a body fat content of between 22 and 31%. A female athlete may have between 14 and 20% body fat.

The Wellpoint measures your Body Fat using a technique called Bioelectrical Impedance Analysis. You hold on to two handles for 30-60 seconds whilst the kiosk passes a light electric current through your body and measures the electrical resistance. Different types of cells – fat, water, muscle etc – have different electrical impedances. Taking this information, plus information about your age, height and gender, the kiosk can calculate a good estimate of how much of your body is made up of fat cells.

Your body fat result can vary during the course of the day. Water has a lower electrical impedance than fat, so being dehydrated will increase your body’s overall electrical resistance and thus give an overestimation of body fat. Other factors such as consuming food and recent exercise can also have an impact on results. However, taking your body fat reading on the kiosk regularly will give you a good picture of your body composition and whether you need to consider lifestyle changes to reduce your body fat.

This is a full breakdown of the ideal body fat results based on age and gender –

Age Female Male
Under 30 20-29% 8-18%
30-39 22-31% 11-20%
40-49 24-33% 13-22%
50-59 26-35% 15-24%
60 and over 28-37% 17-26%