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What is the correlation between body fat and body weight?

Neal Spruce
Neal Spruce on behalf of dotFIT
Fitness
Body fat is the portion of your total weight that is fatty (adipose) tissue. Body weight includes body fat and all other components of your body including bone, organs, fluid, muscle, etc. Body fat is typically shown as a percentage of your total weight. For example, someone weighing 200 lbs with 20% body fat has ~40 pounds of fat (20% of 200=40).
Because of individual differences in muscularity, your fitness level is generally defined better by your percentage of body fat rather than body weight, including where you store most body fat, such as hips or abdomen.
Body weight is determined by two factors: The amount of energy needed and used by your body and the amount of energy you take in as food. If you are active regularly, your proportion of muscle to fat increases and you maintain a higher metabolism, which can help to manage weight. That’s because muscle tissue is active tissue, constantly being torn down and rebuilt. Fat is an inactive substance that is simply a stored form of energy. Because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat, a person who has more muscle will have a higher metabolism than someone who weighs the same but has a higher proportion of body fat.
 
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Michael T. Murray, ND
Naturopathic Medicine

The number on your scale represents your total weight, not the relationship of fat to muscle or the body composition. While being overweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, it is not the critical risk factor. Correctly stated, it is increased body fat that is associated with type 2 diabetes, not increased body weight. While there is a strong correlation between body weight and body fat content, people of normal body weight can develop type 2 diabetes if they have an increased body fat percentage, especially if that excess fat is collecting around the waist or gut. That spare tire, or accumulation of fat around your middle, can lead to what is referred to as "metabolic obesity."

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.