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Standards Of Body Fatnessary

Our bodies require essential fat because it serves as an important metabolic fuel for energy production and other normal bodily functions. Referring to Table 1, you can see that the essential fat requirements are < 5% for men and < 8% for women. Normal body functions may be disrupted if body fat falls below the minimum level recommended for men (5%) and women (15%). The body fat ranges for optimal health (18%-30% for women and 10%-25% for men) are based on several epidemiological studies of the general population. Body fat percentages for optimal fitness and for athletes tend to be lower than optimal health values because excess fat may hinder physical performance and activity.

When prescribing ideal body fat for a client, you should use a range of values rather than a single value to account for individual differences. After age 20, you should expect at least 1-3% fat gain per decade up to the age of 60; thereafter fatness declines gradually. In addition, there is approximately a 2% loss of bone mass per decade in older populations. As a result of these changes, men and women who weigh the same at age 60 as they did at age 20 may actually have double the amount of body fat unless they have been physically active throughout their life (Wilmore et al., 1986).

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