FatCheck's FAQ's

An Overweight Society
One in every three Americans is overweight, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association and other leading health industry observers. All over the country there is a growing consciousness about this widespread health problem. New labeling laws now require manufacturers to identify the ingredients in the foods they prepare and package.
The "food pyramid," a nutrition program emphasizing fruits, vegetables and whole grains over fats, has been developed and endorsed by the government as a guide to healthy eating. And everywhere you look there's another article extolling the virtues of diet and exercise and warning about the dangers of fat. Most of us have heard by now that we should exercise at least two hours a week and limit our fat intake to 25% of the calories we consume. In short, we have become a nation preoccupied with losing weight. What you might not know is that losing weight is not the same as losing fat.

What Is Body Fat
Everyone has it, but some people have more than others. Fat cells, which burn very slowly, are nature's way of sustaining us during periods when food is scarce. In some cultures this natural defense is still important, but because our society now lives without the threat of famine, body fat can and should be kept to a minimum. Health professionals recommend that men maintain an ideal level of no more than 23% body fat and women a level of 27%.

The Invisible Enemy
Unlike weight, body fat can't always be detected by the naked eye and it certainly can't be measured on an ordinary scale.A person may have a slender appearance and relatively low weight, yet still have an unsafe percentage of fat.Unfortunately, with age, the situation often grows worse. The average American loses 1/2 pound of muscle and gains about
1-1/2 pounds of fat every year.

Measuring Body Fat
There are various ways to analyze body fat. Some are extremely exact, but so costly and labor-intensive that they are typically reserved for research purposes. Other "low-tech" methods are faster and cheaper, but they have a larger margin of error. Hydrodensitometry, a method whereby body fat is measured under water, sets the standard for accuracy, but involves complicated formulas, highly trained technicians and expensive laboratory equipment. Other methods include DEXA (dual energy X-ray absorptiometry), ultrasound, infrared metering and BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis).
Hand-held calipers, which are used to measure the skinfold thickness, have been used for years with varying degrees of success.

The Overlooked Consumer
Despite the growing demand for preventive health care and wellness programs, information about body fat and reliable methods for measuring and monitoring it have not been available to the average person. They have remained in medical laboratories due to the high cost of the testing and the complexity of the equipment. While other services, such as pregnancy, blood pressure and cholesterol tests, have moved from the clinic into consumer markets, precise body fat analysis has not been possible in the home.
There has not been a method that is fast, simple, affordable and accurate. Until Tanita's new series of Body Fat analyzers / scales.

Is Tanita a New Company
Tanita is a 75 year old, family owned, $100 million company based in Tokyo, Japan. Due to ongoing success, Tanita has opened branch offices in Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, and here in Chicago. Tanita possesses over 50% of the market share of household weighing equipment in Japan. We are committed to the research and development of products that help people achieve a healthier life. This commitment can be seen in our TBF Series Body Fat Analyzer/Scales. We were the first company to introduce an integrated system of body fat analysis and precise weighing scale back in 1992. Since then, our efforts have been focused on constantly improving an already great product.

How does the scale measure my body fat
The Tanita TBF Series utilizes a patented "foot to foot" pressure contact electrode BioElectricImpedance Analysis (BIA) technique.

The BIA technique is based on the principle that the lean muscular structure which contains virtually all the water (and conducting electrolytes), provides a good electrical pathway.
By inducing a low energy, high frequency electrical signal (50kHz 800 microamp),
a measurement of the baseline resistance to the flow of electrical current can be made.
The resistance measurement relates directly to the volume of the conductor which is used to determine total body water, fat free mass, and total fat. Impedance, as calculated by Tanita, is a highly researched proprietary formula combining both resistance and interactive measurements. These readings are then calibrated to DEXA in research population studies (i.e. for Child, Adult, or Athlete).
The impedance measurement and DEXA calibration are then used to generate an accurate prediction equation or algorithm from which all the measurement data are empirically derived.

The "foot to foot" pressure contact electrodes employed by the Tanita TBF Series has made body fat analysis totally objective. Gone are the issues of electrode placement variation, conductive jellies, operator error, technical training, embarrassing caliper pinch tests, exposure to X-rays, time consuming physician assistance, and inaccurate trending analysis.

How accurate and reliable is this scale.
Independent research at several major universities (Including Columbia University in
New York) has confirmed that in clinical settings, the Tanita Body Fat Analyzer is accurate within +/- 2-3% of the costly and inconvenient gold standards of body composition analysis - Hydrostatic Weighing and DEXA (Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry). Even though these two methods are considered today's gold standards, it should be made clear that currently there is no 100% accurate method (other than an autopsy) to measure exact percentage of body fat. We at Tanita feel that we've developed the most convenient method to accurately predict body composition. The TBF Series is calibrated to both DEXA and Hydrostatic weighing, which are the current gold standards of body composition analysis.
The TBF Series will give you accurate, repeatable results every time.

Method Tests in under one minute Accuracy Burden to Subject Difficulty of operation Price
Tanita BIA Yes High None None Medium
Underwater Weighing No High Extreme Extreme High
DEXA No High Moderate Moderate High
Calipers No Low Moderate Slight Cheap
Ultrasonic No High Moderate Moderate Low
IRI (Infrared) No Low Slight Slight Low
BIA No High Slight Slight Medium

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