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Measuring body fat or measuring BMI - what's better?

Measuring body fat or measuring BMI - what's better?

From 2016 to 2017, NHS statistics from 2017 29% of adults are classified as obese.

Research last year predicted that this will continue to rise, and it is predicted that half of Britons will be obese by 2045. If you’re worried about your weight, check out our blog on how running can help lose weight.

If you’ve decided to lose weight, tone up or get fit, it’s hard to know what to use as a measurable to determine success. Some people like using photos, but sometimes a number/metric is more tangible. This blog will explain what body fat percentage is and how it compares to BMI.

What is BMI?

Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most frequently used way of determining overall body health.

The way to calculate BMI is very simple, the formula is simply a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in metres - it means national (and international) figures can be compared and the overall body health of a nation can be determined. Marsden body composition scales are able to calculate a person's BMI instantaneously.

If a person’s BMI is out of the healthy BMI range (anything above 25), their health risks may increase significantly.

What is body fat?

Body fat is needed to keep us warm and store essential vitamins in our body. Too much of it, though, could lead to diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Body fat percentage is often measured using a body composition scale.

To increase awareness of the ideal body fat percentage, we’ve created an infographic poster. This poster explains in clear and simple terms, what's good and bad about body fat.

Body fat percentage can also be too low. For example, if a man’s body fat is less than 3%, he may be more susceptible to illness and chronic fatigue. There’s just not enough fat there to store the vitamins his body needs, and there’s not enough fat to keep his body warm!

So, Body Fat vs BMI - what's better?

In conclusion, BMI does not provide an indication of the distribution of body fat, and does not adjust for the effects of body shape, therefore it is best to use alongside other body composition readings. Body fat percentage can be easily measured using Marsden’s MBF series body composition scales. Each one, fitted with a printer, will record and print out the percentage reading of anyone standing on the scale. Find out more in this white paper.

Choosing the right weighing scale

It’s important to have accurate weighing scales when kickstarting a healthy lifestyle as it’s important to ensure you’re receiving consistent and accurate weight readings. There's a Marsden scale for just about every need - here are some of the most popular scales that measure either BMI, body fat percentage or both.


The Marsden MBF-6000 is a Class III Approved body composition scale which is widely used in gyms, by medical professionals - and increasingly by sports clubs.

This scale has a printer for a permanent record of all the readings; this also makes it perfect for monitoring key fitness data for sports professionals, semi-professionals, serious amateur athletes and anyone looking to get fit/lose weight. The scale is powered by rechargeable battery which provides around 55 hours of power between charges and is covered by the Marsden 4 Year Warranty.

A column version of this scale is also available.


The M-430 is high accuracy professional medical scale, with a 220kg capacity and graduations to 200g. It is a hugely reliable, digital alternative to dial scales, and widely used around the world. Its reinforced aluminium structure means it's built to last for longer. The scale is able to calculate BMI instantly.

There is a simple tap-on featuring meaning there’s no bending down to switch the scale on and the scale has a non slip surface and adjustable levelling feet. The scale is powered by 6x AA batteries for over 100 hours of use (6000 weigh ins).


The Marsden M-510 is a highly accurate portable floor scale that is widely used in hospitals across the UK. The indicator has three displays, which make viewing patient weight, height and BMI (BMI can be calculated easily by entering your height using the full numeric keypad) with ease.

M-110 (easier BMI calculation)

The Marsden M-110 column scale has its indicator mounted on a column, which means the weight reading is much closer to the user and therefore easier to read.

A column scale can also be fitted with a height measure. There are three height measures available for the M-110. They all attach to the M-110’s column and allows you to take a weight reading at the same time as measuring your height. You can then input the height reading using the scale’s full numeric keypad in order to easily calculate BMI.

For our full range of body composition scales, click here. For more information on any of our body composition scales call 01709 364296, contact us here or use our web chat facility.