TypewriterFrom The Urbach Letter November 2002

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Cool Thing of the Month

Tanita Body Fat Scale

The Tanita Body Fat Scale
If you don't have a way to monitor your body fat percentage, how are you going to know if you're getting healthier? Now, if you want a super-accurate one-time measurement, you'll have to go to a special facility, get dunked in a water tank, and pay hundreds of dollars. Next best is a combination of skin fold caliper and electrical measurement. Still expensive. For the cost of a single reading, you can buy yourself a nice Tanita scale. While any particular reading might vary by plus or minus a half a percent, you'll be able to observe something more meaningful: average change over time. When you see you're tracking towards your goal, that's a very good feeling. Many doctors and health experts believe your body fat percentage is a more important metric of health than a specific weight number. If you're exercising a lot, you're building muscle. Meanwhile, if you're burning more calories than you're eating, your weight can go up even as the fat goes away. But, unless you're monitoring body fat percentage (and paying attention to how your old clothes feel), you can get upset just looking at a higher weight number on the scale. Here's a handy chart of body fat ranges to show you what's important:

Healthy Body Fat Ranges
for 'Standard' Adults:

Age Men Women
18 to 39 8% to 20% 21% to 33%
40 to 59 11% to 22% 23% to 34%
60 to 79 13% to 25% 24% to 36%

Tanita makes several models but I like the TBF551. It stores presets for up to four family members, measures weight to the nearest fifth of a pound and body fat to the nearest 1/10th of a percent. About $120.00

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