Monday, October 2, 2023

Improving Health and Reducing Health Risks Requires Ideal Body Composition, Not Just Weight

Tomoaki Watanabe
August 30, 2023 | 7:00 am
Tomoaki Watanabe, the Director of OMRON Healthcare Indonesia. 
Tomoaki Watanabe, the Director of OMRON Healthcare Indonesia. 

The ongoing process of globalization has driven progress in various fields worldwide, including Indonesia. Advancements in healthcare services seen in the United States, Europe, or Japan can be quickly adapted by healthcare centers in Indonesia through international collaborations between institutions.

However, globalization also brings about some negative impacts. The growth of fast-food franchise businesses, for instance, offering various foods and sugary drinks that has led many people to prioritize convenience in consuming these items rather than maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Consequently, it's no wonder that overweight and obesity have become epidemics in numerous parts of the world, including Indonesia. According to the World Population Review, obesity rates in 2023 have nearly tripled since 1975, with about 13 percent of adults being obese and 39 percent overweight.

In the context of Indonesia, the Ministry of Health has recorded a substantial increase in obesity over the past 10 years, with the rate surging from 10.5 percent in 2007 to 21.8 percent in 2018.


What is obesity? According to the WHO, it's the excessive accumulation of fat due to an imbalance between energy intake and expenditure over the long term.

A normal body weight falls between a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 18.5 to 22.9 kg/m2. If the BMI is in the range of 23 to 24.9 kg/m2, it is considered overweight, while the BMI above 25 kg/m2 is categorized as obesity. The sad reality is that being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for various chronic diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer, which are the leading causes of death in the country.

It’s important to have a good body composition than to simply have a normal weight

The high percentage of the population that is overweight or obese has led to numerous fitness centers and nutrition consultants offering various physical exercise and diet programs to achieve a normal or ideal body weight.

However, having an ideal body weight doesn't necessarily mean having a healthy body. Body weight only measures a person's total mass, without distinguishing whether it comes from body fat or muscle mass. When a person has too much fat, it is known as obesity, which puts them at serious medical risks.

Focusing on body composition is a better way to maintain good health. Body composition refers to the proportion of body fat and muscle mass. Having more muscle mass can increase basal metabolism, meaning the body burns more calories at rest. This can help with weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight.

Excessive body fat can increase the risk of chronic diseases, while insufficient muscle mass can weaken the body and raise the risk of injuries.

To improve body composition, there are several things you can do, such as consuming healthy foods that are rich in protein, fiber, and vitamins, exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes per day, and managing stress in healthy ways, such as practicing yoga or meditation.

Getting acquainted with Body Composition Measurement (BCM)
BCM differs from traditional methods like Body Mass Index (BMI) by analyzing different components such as a person’s weight and height, providing a simple estimation of whether someone is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese. On the other hand, BCM offers a more comprehensive assessment of the body by analyzing components, including body fat, muscle mass, basal metabolic rate (the amount of energy expended at rest), and bone density. This detailed view provides a better understanding of a person's overall body composition and can be valuable in assessing health and fitness levels.

For example, body fat in women aged 20-39 years is considered normal if it falls within the range of 21.0 percent - 32.9 percent. For men in the same age range, normal body fat is around 8.0 percent - 19.9 percent. For muscle mass measurement, women aged 18-39 years are considered to have normal muscle mass within the range of 24.3 percent - 30.3 percent, whereas normal muscle mass for men in the same age group is in the range of 33.3 percent - 39.3 percent.

There are several methods for measuring body composition, including skinfold thickness measurement to estimate fat percentage, using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and bioelectrical impedance analysis (BIA).

Bioelectrical impedance analysis is one of the most accurate ways to track changes in body composition over time. This method estimates body fat percentage by sending an electric current through the body as well as measuring resistance, which is influenced by the amount of fat, muscle mass, and water. BIA is relatively easy and affordable and can be done at home or at a healthcare clinic.

Body composition measurement stands out as an invaluable tool for individuals seeking to achieve their health and fitness goals. Its technology provides a detailed analysis of body composition, including essential metrics like body fat percentage, muscle mass, bone density, and hydration level. With its user-friendly design and non-invasive measurement process, people of all ages and health conditions can benefit from this powerful device.

However, there are some misconceptions that make some people stop using this innovative tool. One is the notion that an ordinary bathroom scale is sufficient to track body weight, ignoring the importance of a comprehensive body composition analysis. Some also think that body fat percentage alone determines health, ignoring the importance of muscle mass and physical activity. While cost and accessibility may seem like an obstacle, options are available that are affordable and easy to use. Fear of complexity can deter individuals, but modern devices are designed for easy operation. 

By overcoming these barriers, you can take control of your health, make informed choices, and improve your overall well-being. To get accurate results, make sure to use a reliable and clinically tested BCM device. Let's raise public awareness about the importance of body composition measurement so that we can contribute to addressing the issues of overweight and obesity while maintaining an ideal body composition.


Tomoaki Watanabe is the Director of OMRON Healthcare Indonesia. 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author.

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