A body fat scale is a type of scale that uses electrical impulses to determine a person’s precise body composition.
The body fat scale provides a more well-rounded picture of a person’s overall health than any standard scale ever could. In addition to looking at body fat this type of scale is also capable of determining hydration levels, bone density, muscle mass and other physical characteristics.
Body fat scales can be synced with your smartphone and used in conjunction with various wellness apps. The resulting data can be used to formulate healthy lifestyle choices going forward. We’ve looked near and far to compile the following list of the best body fat scales for 2020.
1. RENPHO Bluetooth Body Fat Scale
The Renpho Bluetooth Body Fat Scale is one of the most popular out there. It provides generally reliable data related to 13 different body metrics including body fat, BMI, bone density and more. It has a high maximum weight, it’s easy to set up and it won’t break your bank to get one.
What we like: We appreciate the consistency of the body fat readings. No wild fluctuations like you find with lesser body fat scales. We like that it syncs effortlessly with a range of apps on both Android and iOS devices. We also like the large clear display and the auto-shutoff that preserves the batteries.
Flaws: For some reason the BMI readings can fluctuate. And it sometimes has difficulty distinguishing between users.
2. 1byone Scales Digital Weight and Body Fat Scale
The 1byone Body Fat Scale gets generally high points for accuracy and dependability. It also gets high marks for style and its impressive build quality. It’s light, bright, easy to use and dovetails nicely with most contemporary bathroom designs.
What we like: We appreciate the simplicity of the display and the ultra-clean lines of the scale. The sensors do a good job providing consistent data. We also appreciate the 400 pound upper weight limit and the fairly seamless integration with numerous health and wellness apps.
Flaws: The white on white readout can be a challenge to make out on a bright sunny day. Those stainless steel sensor pads can also get cold during the winter.
3. Bveiugn Wireless Body Fat Scale
Attractive, affordable, dependable and highly compatible the Bveiugn Wireless Body Fat Scale embodies all the qualities we want to see in a high-tech device. It has a high upper weight range, a large surface to stand on and the bright, clean display is tailor made for older adults.
What we like: We like that it will store info on 2 dozen different users. We appreciate the upper weight limit of 400 pounds and that the scale syncs painlessly with the smartphone app. It’s also very easy for older folks to read the digital display standing up.
Flaws: As you get into some of the more superfluous metrics data reliability begins to waiver. The scale is also smaller than we expected.
4. GreaterGoods Body Fat Bathroom Scale
The Greater Goods Body Fat Bathroom Scale is another style winner that’s also reliable, well-made and very affordable. It tracks a number of metrics including body fat, overall weight, BMI, water weight, muscle mass and more. And while there is sometimes a bit of variance in some of the more esoteric measurements (bone density for instance) the data is generally consistent.
What we like: We like the nice clear display. We like the non-slip surface. We like the wide-ranging compatibility and auto-shutoff feature. The data produced is typically dependable, the scale has a compelling high-tech look and one can’t say enough about the 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.
Flaws: The scale has a lot going for it but the Bluetooth connectivity can sometimes be an issue.
5. Withings Body Composition Scale
Withings justifies their somewhat higher-than-average price point by providing accurate data, compatibility with more than 100 fitness apps and a wi-fi connection that enables its use anywhere on planet earth you can get a signal. It also features a unique system that guides your feet to the same position every time for more consistent readings.
What we like: We like the look of this scale and the fact that it directs you to a consistent stance. That’s important for accurate readings. We appreciate that the scale syncs with over 100 health related apps. And that it stores data on up to 8 users. You even get the local weather forecast when you step on the scale.
Flaws: Though the body weight scale seems very accurate the body composition readings can be a bit inconsistent at times.
6. Ozeri Touch Body Fat Scale
The Ozeri Touch Body Fat Scale enables you to choose which body metric to examine by touching any of the buttons under the display window. This can be done with your toes if you’re nimble enough. Ozeri also has one of the highest weight ceilings of any such device and stores data on up to 8 different users.
What we like: We like that it presents information quickly and that the readings are relatively consistent. We appreciate the upper limit of 440 pounds and that the tempered glass surface can actually withstand that much weight. We also appreciate the affordable price point.
Flaws: You’re probably better off leaving this in the bedroom instead of the bathroom because humidity seems to mess with it. Also, it won’t sync with Apple devices.
7. Triomph Body Fat Scale
The Triomph Body Fat Scale does its best to guide the user to obtaining the data they want. That those efforts are somewhat muddled is not a good thing. But if you stick with it and figure it out you’ll find the information it gleans is among the most accurate of any such scale. So patience is the key word here.
What we like: The fact that the scale comes on automatically when you stand on it is a nice touch. We like that it stores up to 10 personal profiles and asks you who you are if your profile overlaps with someone else’s. We like that it comes with batteries and that the digital readout is big and clear.
Flaws: As we mentioned setting it up so that it takes accurate measurements can be something of a slog. But it’s worth it.
8. Fitbit Aria 2
It only follows that the maker of the world’s most popular fitness trackers would also dive into the body fat scale pond. The Fitbit Aria 2 syncs painlessly with the company’s own app as well as more than 200 other apps via both Android and iOS. It sets up quickly, looks great and is built to last.
What we like: We like that it’s compatible with virtually any late model smartphone. We appreciate that it syncs easily with dozens of health-related apps. And we really appreciate the clean lines, large platform and simple easy-to-read digital output. Some of the tracking graphs are also useful.
Flaws: It sometimes has a hard time determining who’s on the scale. And setup instructions could use some improvement.
9. Innotech Smart Bluetooth Body Fat Scale
The Innotech Body Fat Scale provides data on 9 different aspects of your physiology. It syncs with dozens of fitness apps and is right at home with either iOS or Android devices. It returns useful information quickly and doesn’t force you to stand on cold steel sensor plates.
What we like: We like the company-supplied app maybe better than any other proprietary app. But the Innotech scale also syncs nicely with scores of other fitness-related apps. We like the clean, compelling look and feel and the generally dependable quality of the data.
Flaws: Need to ensure it is perfectly flat if you want to get accurate, consistent readings.
10. Yunmai Premium Smart Body Fat Scale
The last of our best body fat scales comes from Yunmai. This scale provides information on 10 body metrics and has its own app that’s the equal of many other, more well-known apps. That app however, is hungry for your private data. Maybe that’s an issue for you and maybe it isn’t.
What we like: We appreciate the breadth of metrics being measured. We like that it can be synced with a variety of wellness apps. The fact that it will store data on 16 different users is nice as is the fact that its compatible with both Android and iPhone.
Flaws: If you value your privacy be aware the app requires access to unrelated things like your private media files, contacts, and more.
Who Needs a Body Fat Scale?
Anyone interested in achieving and maintaining robust overall health can benefit from having a body fat scale in the bathroom or bedroom. While keeping your weight in line is important, true overall health depends on a number of other factors besides total body weight. One of those factors is body fat. Body fat is generally defined as that part of the body not composed of bones, muscles, organs or water.
There are actually 5 different kinds of body fat: white, brown, subcutaneous, belly and visceral. Of the 5 visceral fat is by far the most concerning because it is believed to raise a person’s risk of everything from diabetes to Alzheimer’s (1). The thing is, it is devilishly difficult to determine exactly how much visceral fat is lurking under the skin without submitting to either an MRI or DEXA (2). However, it is possible to get a general idea of the risk visceral and other types of fat pose to your overall health by using a body fat scale.
How We Ranked
There are a number of things to consider when buying a body fat scale. First and foremost is accuracy. As we mentioned above getting a precise measurement of body fat – particularly visceral fat – can be quite a challenge. But body fat scales are getting better every year. As such it’s no longer unrealistic to expect your body fat scale to give you a reasonable idea of how much body fat you’re carrying around. Bottom line is that scales that were either obviously inaccurate or terribly inconsistent did not make our list.
Since body fat is an important consideration for older individuals (3) we wanted to see scales that were/are highly stable and which have large, easy to read displays. If the scale came with a wall mounted display (which some do) even better. Of course, any information that is displayed should be easy to interpret as well. In addition, the scale should sync easily with your smartphone and with the best health-related apps. If syncing or programming the scale was a too much of a chore the scale did not make our list.
We also considered whether or not a particular scale measured other metrics such as BMI (4), bone mass and muscle mass. And lastly, we considered things like the number of personal profiles the scale stores, how useful the instruction booklet is and the look of the device too. Since you’re going to have to live with it for years.
A body fat scale is a convenient way to track weight loss. Any decent body fat scale is also going to track your total weight. And while even the best body fat scales can only provide approximate body composition data the overall weight reading should, and typically is, highly accurate. Therefore, you’ll always be able to keep an eye on the big picture, while you do your best to ensure you’re losing the right kind of weight, i.e. visceral and other types of fat (not muscle mass).
A body fat scale provides dependable data. At least the best ones do. They’ll supply you with a very accurate read on your overall weight and provide you with a good idea of your body fat levels, bone density (5), water content and more. What you do with this data will be up to you. But there are myriad health and fitness apps that will accept data like this and provide you with useful feedback to guide your diet and exercise choices. You can sync the body fat scale to those apps easily via your smartphone.
A body fat scale can give you a big picture view of your overall health. The body fat scale can provide you with a series of measurements that, when taken together, provide you with a clear overall picture of your current health. Contrast that to a standard analog scale like you see in a doctor’s office that uses sliding weights. Sure, those sliding weights provide a very accurate measurement of total weight. But that’s it. In order to learn about other aspects of your current condition you have to submit to a physical examination. Because it provides usable information on bone density, muscle mass, body water (6) and much more the body fat scale is like undergoing a physical exam every time you step onto the scale.
A body fat scale can be integrated with a range of other health-related apps. There are two principles that underpin much of today’s technology: convergence (7) and compatibility (8). Both are at work in the best body fat scales of 2020. Convergence in the sense that the humble bathroom scale is taking on more and more duties (bone density checker etc) and compatibility in that it can be effortlessly synced with most smartphones. Those smartphones, in turn, are a gateway to innumerable health and fitness apps. They are designed to accept the data produced by the scale and draw relevant conclusions from it. This then allows you to make informed lifestyle choices that will benefit your health.
A body fat scale can store data on all members of the family. We just spent a bit of time espousing the technological prowess of today’s body fat scales. Another example of this is their ability to create and store numerous user profiles. This means that when you step on the scale it will identify you and present information about you that it has gleaned over time. When you leave the bathroom and your teenager enters and steps on the scale it will identify them and present information it has collected about them. This enables each user to keep constant track of various trends regarding their health which should, in theory anyway, make it easier to maintain good health.
A body fat scale makes a handsome addition to your bathroom. Let’s talk aesthetics for a moment. These scales look great and add a subtle element of sophistication to your bathroom. We’re of a mind that you can never have enough nice things in your home. And today’s body fat scales fall squarely into that category. Most display the clean lines and sleek, minimalist design ethos of the smartphone, the flat screen TV, the laptop and other pieces of everyday high-tech. Just watch the way they elevate the atmosphere in the bathroom once you place them on the floor.
A body fat scale enables you to track bone density. While the best body fat scales will track a wide array of metrics perhaps the most important besides body fat is bone density. This is crucial for older adults who often live with the specter of broken bones looming over their every move. A loss of bone density often goes hand in hand with osteoporosis and this is typically the precursor to broken bones. Being able to track bone density enables the older individual to stay ahead of the issue and make adjustments to their diet and lifestyle as necessary (9). If the body fat scale does nothing else for a senior citizen this alone makes it worth the modest investment.
A body fat scale allows you to set goals and track progress. Because the body fat scale can monitor so much more than just overall weight and body fat it allows you to set exercise and weight loss goals and track your progress on a daily basis. Setting goals is a key component to any successful weight loss program (10). And the body fat scale can provide you information that will enable you to do that. If you are not sure how to go about setting goals there are dozens of apps available that will help you. Some require only minimal input on your part and can devise a comprehensive strategy for you in no time. One that is derived from the information gleaned from the body fat scale.
A body fat scale helps you stay properly hydrated. And that’s important because there are few things as crucial to good health as proper hydration. Especially in older individuals (11). Most body fat scales today will measure body water levels. So you get an up to the minute look at your current state of hydration. The scale will not only estimate your current water levels it will also determine whether you should be drinking more water. In addition, by stepping on the scale both before and after a vigorous exercise session you’ll get a good idea exactly how much water you burn off when running, cycling, weightlifting etc. This helps you determine how much water you should drink during your workout to optimize performance.
A body fat scale is an affordable way to keep tabs on your health. Most people believe that in order to get an accurate read on their current health they need to visit the doctor and submit to a physical examination. In the past there was certainly a lot of truth to that. And in some cases it’s also true today. However, if you have a body fat scale the days of having to trudge to the doctor’s office for physical exams are probably over. That’s not only important from a convenience point of view, but from a financial point of view as well. Especially for seniors because physicals can be expensive (12) and Medicare does not cover the cost of a physical examination (13). Instead it covers something called a ‘Wellness exam’ where the doctor weighs you, checks your blood pressure and asks you how you are. A body fat scale can give you a much more comprehensive view of your health than that.
A body fat scale is easier to read than counterweight scales. In most cases people experience a gradual decline in eyesight as they age. Some of it is preventable and some is not (14). But regardless of why it happens, it happens. And technology designed with older folks in mind needs to account for this fact. One of the great things about today’s body fat scales is that the best ones provide large, uncluttered easy-to-read displays that can be clearly seen from a standing position. Most are also illuminated so that they can be easily read even in a dark room. Contrast that to traditional counterweight scales that require intense focus on tiny notches in the slides and the corresponding numbers.
Q: What is a body fat scale?
A: Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows and has a love/hate relationship with the bathroom scale. We love it when it affirms weight loss progress, hate it when it tells us we ate too many cookies over the holidays. But total body weight, which is what the standard bathroom scale provides, is only part of the health picture. Just as important when it comes to your weight is what your pounds are made of; their composition. And that’s something the humble bathroom scale can’t provide.
In the past you would have had to make a trip to the doctor’s office to get a more detailed picture of your body composition. The doctor probably would have told you about the importance of having a healthy body mass index or BMI (15). But even Ye Olde BMI is no longer considered the final word in body composition. Today, that distinction belongs to tests that determine body fat. There are several ways this can be done. With the most accurate generally thought to be either the MRI or the DEXA test.
Q: Does a body fat scale perform an MRI or DEXA test?
A: Unfortunately, no. No one has figured out yet how to stick one of those tests into a bathroom scale and so an alternative was devised. This alternative is called the ‘bioelectrical impedance method’. And we’ll get to in more detail in a moment. This relatively simple method is capable of providing ballpark estimates of body fat, bone mass, body water content, muscle mass and more. And while not as accurate (yet) as an MRI it can nonetheless paint a more fully fleshed out picture of your current physical state of affairs than was ever possible before.
Q: How does a body fat scale work?
A: As we just mentioned the body fat scale leverages something called the ‘bioelectric impedance method’ (16) to determine a range of physical metrics which, when taken as a whole, add up to a person’s body composition. This method is actually fairly simple when compared to some other diagnostic tests in common use today. In a nutshell you step on the scale and it sends a modest electric current into your feet and up through your body. An algorithm in the scale then measures the amount of resistance that current encounters as it moves up one leg and back down the other.
Q: Why does a body fat scale measure resistance?
A: Because fat does a poor job conducting electricity compared to other types of tissue like muscle. So if the current encounters lots of resistance that means it’s encountering lots of body fat. Little resistance means little body fat. Again, it’s not as accurate as an MRI or DEXA test (17) but it is accurate enough to paint a more complete picture of your current state than a standard scale can.
Q: Are these scales dangerous for pregnant women?
A: There is little compelling evidence to suggest that the bioelectric impedance method of testing for body fat presents a danger to pregnant women. In fact quite a bit of research has been conducted that suggests this technique can be useful in predicting the birth weight of the child (18). Still, out of an abundance of caution some doctors advise pregnant women to avoid using the body fat scale. The thinking being that since the technology is fairly new more time needs to pass and more research needs to be conducted before the possibility of harm can be definitively ruled out.
Q: Are body fat scales accurate?
A: While they are not as precise as an MRI or DEXA test they are accurate enough to provide you with a fairly comprehensive picture of your current body composition. Just be aware that there are a number of factors that potentially weigh on the accuracy of the results provided by this type of scale. Those factors include gender, age, how often and how vigorously you engage in strength training, pregnancy and fat distribution. That is, whether most of the excess fat is concentrated in one area, such as a ‘beer belly’.
Q: Are body fat scales dangerous for those with pacemakers?
A: Body fat scales should probably be avoided by people who have had pacemakers installed. That is because, as we mentioned, this type of scale utilizes an electrical current to determine fat density and distribution. It is possible that such an electrical current could interfere with the operation of the pacemaker, which is also an electrical device. It must be stated though that current research does not indicate that this type of scale presents an imminent hazard to people with pacemakers (19). However, it is believed by many that not enough research has been done to this point. Therefore, in the spirit of ‘better safe than sorry’ people with pacemakers are often advised to steer clear of body fat scales.
Q: Is body fat the same as BMI?
A: Body fat is not the same as BMI. Body fat certainly makes up part of the BMI equation. But BMI readings don’t separate body fat from other types of tissue. Instead, the BMI only seeks to determine if a person is within what is considered a healthy weight range for their height. Let’s say that again. BMI does not distinguish between types of tissue. All it does is calculate whether a person’s weight is proportionate to their height. This means that someone with a lot of muscle mass and little body fat could actually be determined to have an unhealthy BMI. While a person who is rail thin but has a large ‘beer belly’ could have a BMI that indicates they are healthy. These are examples of why people prefer to know their body fat content instead of the less precise BMI.
Q: What’s the best time of the day to take a body fat reading?
A: There is no ‘best’ time of the day to do so. The most important thing is that you take a reading at the same time and under basically the same conditions every day. Some people prefer to do so first thing in the morning, before they’ve had breakfast. Others take the reading before lunch. While still others make it the last thing they do before they go to bed at night. Considering all the things that could affect a person over the course of the day we might lean toward the morning being a safe choice. But even then there are a lot of variables involved that could change the outcome. Just try to be consistent.
As we learn more about the human body and the factors that affect it new tools are created that provide a clearer picture of overall health and wellbeing. One of these is the body fat scale. A good body fat scale will provide a host of data that you would otherwise have to visit the doctor to obtain. This can help you make informed decisions about diet and exercise that result in a higher degree of overall health.
While most adults can benefit from using a body fat scale these devices should be of particular interest to older folks. Why? Because they can provide valuable insight into diabetes risk as well as any risk to the heart posed by excess visceral fat. Many are also able to look at bone density. That’s vital because broken bones pose a very real threat to the health and wellbeing of older individuals.
All of the body fat scales on our list have held up under close inspection. They represent the best body fat scales on the market today and can help you in your quest to achieve a higher degree of overall health.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended body fat scale, click here.