One of the most common devices used to track wellness at home is a standard scale. These days a simple and reliable scale can be picked up for around $10 online. But weight is only a symptom of other indicators when tracking wellness.
Of course there are deluxe versions of scales that run well over $100. They try to provide more insights than just a single weight measurement. Most commonly this is some type of body composition reading.
Body composition is, generally, a measurement that compares how much of your body’s mass is in muscle compared to how much is fat. There is of course a lower limit, since you need some fat, and no matter what you will have a percentage of your mass in bone mass, but generally speaker a higher ratio of muscle to fat is better.
Beyond the scale the same body composition measurement is gathered via other tools. Some of them use simple imagery, like the Amazon Halo app, while others like the Dexascan use internal body scans to measure the materials directly.
Each measurement type has its benefits, differs in how easy they are to get access to, and varies slightly on the output and reliability.
Withings Body+ Scale
The scale covered elsewhere on this site, along with its companion blood pressure cuff, is the Withings Body+. Using an unfeelable small electrical current it measures the impedance in your lower body and uses that to calculate body fat as a way to tell body composition.
The Amazon Halo is a competitor to a Fitbit. The wrist worn step tracker, the Halo band, is one component of the Amazon Halo service though. The other part, for now, is an app that tracks stats. In it you can setup a scan using just your smartphone camera. Prop a phone up, stand back, and follow its prompts to get photos of you from multiple angles and it’ll stitch the images together into a full body scan. Using some proprietary formula it then spits out a body fat percentage.
The most accurate way to get body composition is some form of lab visit. Commonly wellness centers, university labs, and some clinics, will have a submersible tank for measurement. Now though you can also get a scan with a machine the measures via a scan.
Dexafit is one of the most common of these. It has the benefit of better accounting for significant hidden muscle, and body types that carry more weight in certain areas since it measures each area independently.
The scans here suggest that Amazon Halo is closer to accurate than a smart scale. That’s if you trust the scan is the most accurate. To be fair the scale varies slightly each time you step on it, but generally is consistent. That means if you are using it to track progress it’s pretty good, even if the absolute number is somewhat off of other s.
It also means if you’re used to stepping on a smart scale, be prepared to see a higher body fat measurement when you use a different technique.