The small difference in fat mass has been revealed by Bodyscan’s advanced X-ray fat scanners, which have precisely measured the body composition of more than 4000 men and 2500 women. Three-quarters of the sample said they had the scan to help them with fat loss.
At first sight the figures seem to contradict the firmly established fact that women carry proportionately a lot more fat than men, for biological and reproductive reasons.
“The key word is ‘proportionately,'” explains Philip Chant, managing director of Bodyscan. “A bigger proportion of a woman’s total weight is fat, meaning they do indeed have a higher body fat percentage than men.” He cites average fat levels of 32.5% for women and 23% for men.
“But women are, on average, shorter than men and have less muscle mass, so when we look at the amount of fat in absolute terms, the numbers are quirkily similar.”
By precisely measuring fat mass to the nearest gram, Bodyscan’s figures also reveal that “low body fat” is typically below 15kg for men and less than 16kg for women, though exact numbers are dependent on factors such as build, height, ethnicity and personal preference as well as age.
Obese people can carry anywhere between 30kg and 50kg of body fat, which with a deficit of 500 calories a day might take between five and 18 months to reach the 20kg average of Bodyscan’s sample.
According to National Statistics, in 2018 there were 617,000 hospital admissions that cited obesity as the primary or secondary factor. More than a quarter of British men and women are classified as obese.
Bodyscan (bodyscanuk.com) is the only company in the UK dedicated to measuring body composition with highly accurate DEXA (dual-energy X-ray) technology. It has two London clinics, in Marylebone High Street and Cornhill in the City of London.
Notes for editors
The data is for Bodyscan clients and, whilst not a random sample of the UK population, it is large (6,500) and very diverse, from the severely obese to fitness fanatics. The median age of Bodyscan clients is 38 for both sexes and 75% of clients cite “fat loss” as the reason for their scan.