IF YOUR BODY MASS INDEX (BMI) falls within the normal range(between 18.5 and 25), you might assume you’re protected against obesity-related diseases. But in a new study presented at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session, doctors found that more than half of American women with a normal BMI also have an unhealthy body fat percentage (30 percent or more).
Because BMI only reflects the ratio between height and weight but doesn’t distinguish between lean muscle or fat, “even slim women may be at risk for metabolic abnormalities that can lead to diabetes and heart disease,” says lead study author Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, M.D., a cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. That’s why it’s critical for all women to get their body fat percentage tested, something that can be done at most gyms and health clubs. If the number is higher than 30 percent, take that as your cue to get started on a fitness program that can help you burn fat, build muscle, and lower your risk factors for disease.