According to the World Health Organisation, abdominal obesity among men is when the waist to hip ratio is 0.9 and above while among women it is 0.85 and above.  PHOTO/NET


Understanding your body composition scale measurements

What you need to know:

  • A body composition scale is a type of weighing scale that provides the user with a calculation of their body health. Over time the user can see, in detail, the results of their weight loss or fitness programme.

Denise Okello, a tall, medium-sized girl has always weighed more than her age mates. In primary school, Okello weighed 55kg but in secondary school, she weighed 65kg. However, being a volleyball player meant she was always active. With time, Okello became depressed because while she had tried as much as possible to lose the weight, she still weighed more than her friends. 

Dr Franklin Wasswa, a general practitioner at Entebbe General Hospital, says there are different ways to tell if one’s body weight is putting them at risk of other health conditions. 

“Although the first step is to always weigh someone, that figure is not enough to make a conclusive judgement and must be compared to something. This is because while some people are tall, others are short or in-between, and all have different weights. Therefore, the figures on the weighing scale do not necessarily communicate the health implications of the weight,” he says.

Body Mass Index
Body Mass Index (BMI) is derived from one’s weight and height. According to, BMI is a person’s weight in kilogrammes divided by their height in feet. 

“BMI puts into consideration one’s gender, height and weight and this way, a professional will be able to tell you whether your weight may put you at risk of other health complications,” Dr Wasswa says. states that for one with a height of 5’9”, healthy weight is between 18.5 and 24.9.  Unfortunately, while BMI helps one know if they may be risking getting sick, it does not tell them the actual source of the weight yet in the body, fat is not the only contributor of the total body weight. 

“Bones and muscle are some of the constant contributors, while things such as water retained in the body contribute to much of the total body weight. That would mean that a bodybuilder will have an inaccurate BMI recording,” Dr Robert Ssooka, a general practitioner, shares.

Body Fat Mass (BFM)
According to, fat mass is the total mass of fat in the body and is useful for identifying the effectiveness of a training programme.

Some body fat is classified as ‘essential fat’ - which the body needs to function and keep organs warm. Therefore, a very low Fat Mass reading can be dangerous.

Calories or energy in the body come from what we eat and drink. Energy is burned from physical activity, but if you consume more than you burn excess calories are stored in fat cells, culminating in excess body fat. Too much body fat can damage long-term health.

Waist-Hip Ratio
The next best measure of body weight is Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR) and is more accurate at predicting health risks. WHR is derived from dividing one’s waist measurement by their hip measurement. The higher the ratio, the more fat one has around their waist, which means they are susceptible to other health problems. That is because, even with a normal BMI, one’s health is affected depending on where their body fat is stored.

According to Dr Ssooka, abdominal fat is visceral fat and it surrounds the organs in that area such as the kidneys and liver. This fat is not desirable as it sends fatty acids, hormones and other chemicals that cause inflammation in the body. The result is high cholesterol, blood glucose and blood pressure, which change the body’s functionality causing diseases. 

“Additionally, having such fat means higher triglyceride (a fat type) levels in the blood. However, these increase one’s risk of suffering a stroke, heart attack, and pancreatitis,” he adds.
Waist measurement of more than 40 inches (102cm) in men and 35 inches (88cm) in women is unhealthy. 

“While having fat around the waist is possible among both men and women, it is more common among men. This is because women often have fat around their thighs and hips. However, if you have more hip width, then the ratio will apply,” Dr Wasswa shares.

According to the World Health Organisation, abdominal obesity among men is when the waist to hip ratio is 0.9 and above while among women it is 0.85 and above. A ration higher than 1.0 is an immediate cause for concern.

Improving your ratio
Seeing that a higher waist to hip ratio is unhealthy even when one has a healthy BMI, there is need to lower it. 

Get physically active
Often times, people with lots of fat around their waist or are obese take in more calories than they are able to use. 
Lydia Kaitesi, a fitness trainer, says when one’s activity levels are low, the body will store these calories as fat awaiting to be used. Therefore, the most common and first line of action is to become more physically active. 

“It also helps to reduce the amount one eats by cutting back on the portions to only what they need,” she shares. 
Some of the activities that one can engage in to increase their energy use include brisk walking, dancing, bike riding and jogging, among others. 
“Aim for 150 minutes of physical exercise per week,” Kaitesi advises.

Re-evaluate your diet
It is often said that we are what we eat, meaning the food we eat has a direct impact on our lives. As such, Innocent Kwame, a nutritionist, says it is important to eat a balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables. 

“Take more water, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also, get rid of or cut back on processed foods such as fast foods, pastries, foods high in sugar, red meat and saturated oils such as fat spreads,” he advises.

Protein mass
Protein mass tracks the amount of protein in the body. A lack of protein can be linked to an increase in body fat. There is a link between protein mass and muscle mass. As you get older you need more protein due to anabolic resistance, which lowers the body’s ability to break down and synthesise protein

What percentage of your body should be protein?
Ideally, protein should make up about 12 percent to 20 percent of your total daily calories. Protein is essential for keeping your body healthy and working the way that it should. 


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