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Understanding Body Composition and How It Impacts My Health

Understanding Body Composition and How It Impacts My Health

Health and wellness are more than the absence of illness, and much more than a number on a scale. Even if you’re disease-free and believe you’re relatively fit, your unique body composition may be telling a different story.

At SourceMD: Integrated Wellness Solutions in Encinitas, California, Dr. David Larson helps his patients understand why body weight alone is a poor indicator of health, and that it’s only one factor among many that are critical in analyzing your metabolic function.

As part of his comprehensive fitness testing, Dr. Larson assesses your total body composition for a better picture of your unique physique and what’s needed to optimize your overall health.

What is body composition?

Whether you’re getting ready to start a weight-loss program or you’re an elite athlete looking to boost your performance, it’s important to know your body well, and that starts with understanding your body composition.

In short, body composition refers to how much of your body is fat and how much is not fat — that is, water, muscle, skin, blood, etc. To get that number, it takes more than a bathroom scale, which only measures your total weight.

Dr. Larson uses advanced technology to obtain the most accurate measurement of your fat-to-nonfat ratio — the Styku™ 3D body scanner. While you stand fully clothed on a turntable, he takes a 360-degree 3D scan of your entire body. Similar to the security scan in airports, the process takes less than a minute and delivers a detailed analysis that reveals critical information about your fitness and health, such as:

  • Waist circumference
  • Hip circumference
  • Surface area
  • Volume

These measurements each indicate how efficiently your body functions. They also provide a baseline for future comparison measurements. Dr. Larson assesses these numbers in light of your age, sex, and genetic makeup to help him develop a plan for your future health and wellness.

Is all fat bad?

No. In fact, your body needs some fat to protect your organs, store energy, and regulate your hormones. But if you have more than you need, the excess fat leads to myriad health problems. Dr. Larson’s 3D body scan can determine how much essential versus nonessential body fat you have and where it resides.

For instance, he can determine whether you have mostly subcutaneous fat, which can be found under your skin and in your muscle tissue, or visceral fat, which hangs around your organs. Too much of either kind can be detrimental.

How much fat is too much?

You may have heard of the body mass index, or BMI, as a way to measure your health status. But BMI is not a diagnostic tool. Rather, it’s a formula that helps you see how you compare to other men and women of equal height.

It’s too simplistic to rely on alone, but it provides a good reference point. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in general, if your BMI is:

  • Less than 18.5, you’re underweight
  • Between 18.5 and 24.9, you’re at a normal weight
  • Between 25 and 29.9, you’re overweight
  • Over 30, you’re obese

Again, this is just one part of your overall health story, and it can be misleading. For instance, a muscular person may have a skewed higher BMI, and an elderly person with low muscle mass may have a deceivingly low number. Dr. Larson factors in your vital signs, age, hormone levels, flexibility, posture, muscular endurance, strength, and health history as well.

A word about waist circumference

In addition to the ratio between fat and nonfat mass in your body, the location of stored fat directly impacts your health. Here again, the 3D scan provides the most accurate information regarding the specific body part circumferences.

In particular, the ratio between the circumferences of your waist and hips is a well-known predictor of certain health risks. In general, men whose waist is greater than 40 inches, and women whose waist is greater than 35 inches are at higher risk for obesity-related conditions.

How body fat affects your overall health

Being overweight or obese is not merely a matter of aesthetics; it’s a serious health concern. If you’re carrying around excess weight, you’re at risk for:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Chronic fatigue
  • High blood pressure
  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • High cholesterol
  • Stroke
  • Certain cancers

The good news is that the detailed analysis helps determine the best path toward true health and fitness, including medical treatments, hormone therapy, diet, exercise, and lifestyle adjustments that will optimize your overall health and improve your quality of life.

To find out if you're a good candidate for a body composition analysis using the Styku 3D body scanner, call us today at 760-230-1317 or send us a message online.