Encyclopedia / B / Body Fat

Body Fat


Adipose tissue (body fat) is a normal constituent of the human body that serves the important function of storing energy as fat for metabolic demands.

Obesity is an excess of body fat frequently resulting in a significant impairment to health (see Health Profile on Obesity).


Almost everyone knows what the standard weight tables show as a desirable weight for themselves, but can you weigh too much yet still be healthy? The term overweight means a person weighs more than average for his or her weight and frame size, as defined by standard tables.

The scale, however, cannot differentiate between fat pounds and muscle pounds. A fit person with a high muscular density may be overweight in relation to the weight tables, yet still be in perfect health. People of normal weight can be at risk for health problems because a high percentage of their weight is fat. The proper way to look at the number on the scale, if it is higher than the standard and averages, would be to look at it as overfat and overweight.


Which way of measuring body fat would be most accurate?

Are any of the measuring tests harmful?

If a diet of reduced fat is followed, approximately how long does it take to start burning up excess fat?

Should a nutritionist be consulted?

Does exercise reduce fat faster than a fat-reduced diet?

How is being overweight contributing to my other medical problems?

How is being overweight increasing my risk of developing new medical conditions?