What is a Body Fat Percentage ?

As this year 2011 draws close to its end, most Americans are pummeled by statistics to show that as a nation, Americans have an increased rate of prevalence of obesity. Sample this slice of statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – States like Mississippi, West Virginia and Alabama topped the chart with over 32 % obesity rates. And the statistics for the rest of the world is not encouraging too. The WHO is concerned that by the year 2015, there will be about 2.3 billion overweight people from the total world population of 7 billion and about 700 million of them will be obese.

According to a survey in the UK, English women added about 6.5 inches to their waist measurement in the last 50 years.

The causes attributed to this modern malaise are the meteoric rise in sedentary jobs, motorized transportation, labor saving devices and convenience foods.

Increased obesity has a correlation to increased prevalence of heart disease, type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, stroke, deep vein thrombosis and even cancer. Associated emotional problems like low self-esteem and depression too may go unrecognized.

Now that we have placed some statistics to show the gloomy nature of this burgeoning issue, we will see ways of tackling this issue closer at home. For people like you and me, radical options like ditching the car or starvation diets are not alluring and practical.

The most common way to classify overweight and obesity is the Body Mass Index or BMI as it is commonly known. Women are more predisposed to higher percentage of body fat when compared with men for the same BMI. The female hormone estrogen contributes to about 5% more body fat in women than men. BMI calculation does not indicate the amount of body fat but instead throws light on the relative percentage of fat and muscle mass as compared to the height. BMI or Body Mass Index is one of the indicators of a person’s overall health condition. The BMI chart must not be viewed in isolation but along with the person’s age, lifestyle and other related issues.

But, a drawback with BMI is that it doesn’t take into account a person’s body fat content. There are possibilities that BMI may overestimate body fat if the person is muscular or athletic and report a high BMI. Likewise, if the person has low muscle mass it may underestimate body fat and report a low BMI.

What are the facts associated with Body fats ?

What is a Body Fat Percentage ?

How do you reliably measure the Body fat percentage ?

Our editorial researchers have delved into this quintessential subject and have come up with answers to the questions raised above.

We will point you to one such page here: Body Fat Percentage


Empowering Women

There it was – an email sitting in my inbox out of several hundreds I get every day. What made it unique was it was about ’empowering women’ – our motto.

Women empowerment is not about just empowering individuals. When you empower women, their entire families benefit …. Creating ripple effects on future generations too! When women are provided the opportunity to manage their own lives, when women avail opportunities for financial independence, when women have access to education, it leads to overall development of the community.

Women who received gender equity training in Rajasthan

Women who received gender equity training in remote India

Take the case of Heifer International, an organization that seeks to empower women and create true gender equity. One of their recent initiatives saw a team from Heifer International and BLT Helps, a non-profit service organization visiting the arid desert region in India. The empowerment program extended to women from five villages in Alwar District of Rajasthan, a northern state of India.

Group of Women from Aarti Self Help Group

Women from the Aarti Self Help Group

I quote part of the mail here:

“In April 2010, Heifer International staff and a team from non-profit service organization, BLT Helps, traveled to Rajasthan, India to witness Heifer’s work in action.  They sat with women from five villages who shared stories of their journeys from oppression and poverty to empowerment through the Heifer program.  Documented by renowned photographer Brigitte Lacombe, the photographs and videos in this collection provide a glimpse into the lives of the women who are working diligently to change the course of the future for their daughters and their communities.

Woman and her newly acquired Goat

Woman and her goats provided by Heifer

As part of the objective to relieve global poverty and hunger, Heifer International supplied livestock, plants and training to women self help groups. It also provided a platform for the women to share their experiences as well as gain gender equity training. Illiterate women speak of their tales of empowerment – obtained by working diligently, gaining some education and training. Their shy but confident smiles are testimony to their pride in being able to change not just their own lives but those of their daughters too.

Volunteer poses with lamb and children

A Volunteer with lamb and children

girls gather outside a self-help group meeting in Bagad-Rajput

Girls gather outside a self-help group meeting in Bagad-Rajput.

Gender Equality TrainingDuring a gender equity training in the village of Samara, a woman is tied with black ribbon to signify how society places restraints on her just for her gender. By the end of the session, she will be bound from head to toe.

Autism Gluten Free Diet

The University of California Davis Health System conducted a study with autistic kids born in the 1990s and noticed that they tended to suffer gastrointestinal problems such as constipation, diarrhea, food allergy, vomiting and the like. It is felt that persons suffering PDD (pervasive developmental disorders) and autism may have problems digesting gluten and casein as these substances form peptides that act much like opiates within the body.
Gluten Free Diet
It is not an allergy or sensitivity to these foods. It is largely due to their inability to properly break down certain proteins. This results in altered behavior, perception and responses. These findings have recently been confirmed by researchers at Johnson & Johnson’s Ortho Clinical Diagnostics. In fact research done in the US and Europe reports that in a significant number of autistic children, their urine was noticed to contain peptides.

When children with autism are given a diet free of gluten and casein, they are likely to show reduced symptoms and improved social and cognitive behaviors and speech. Eliminating gluten and casein from the diets of autistic children has shown improvement, ranging from mild to tremendous. But there is a lot of skepticism about whether a gluten and casein free diet (GFCF diet) can help at all since clinical trials have not been conclusive. While there are reports of parents having reported improved eye contact and better behavior, others have noticed minor or no difference at all.

Gluten is found in wheat and most grains, starches, malt etc. Casein is found in milk and milk based products like cheese, butter, ice cream, yogurt and whey. It is indeed a hard task to work on a diet that is completely free of gluten and casein. Check for products that are gluten free targeted at those who suffer gluten intolerance as in Celiac Disease. These days the products also come in casein-free options.

Consult your physician before you embark on a GFCF diet. Ensure that the child gets sufficient fiber, vitamins and minerals. Foods that come within a GFCF diet include eggs, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, rice, quinoa, potato, soy, fruits, vegetables, oil and corn, among others.

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