The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH



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Body Composition

Body composition describes what part of total body weight is fat, and what part is fat free. Fat-free body weight includes bones and muscles. FitnessGram® believes it is important to educate youth and parents about appropriate levels of body composition. Some body fat is needed for overall good health, but too much can lead to health problems, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Overweight youth are at a higher risk for becoming overweight adults. Therefore, by maintaining a healthy weight a child can potentially reduce their future risk of health problems.

FitnessGram provides two tests to assess body composition:

  • Body Fat Percentage
    • Skinfold
    • Bioelectrical Impedance Analyzer (BIA)
  • Body Mass Index (BMI)

FitnessGram® body composition standards are based on percent body fat. Although an assessment of percent body fat utilizing a bioelectric impendence device or skin-fold assessment would be ideal, practical application in schools is very difficult. Therefore, FitnessGram® also provides standards for a widely used alternative indicator of body composition known as Body Mass Index (BMI).

The BMI is based on weight relative to height and essentially indicates if the weight is appropriate for the height. BMI cannot measure fat directly, but it can help assess health risks related to a body weight that is too great or too little for the height. FitnessGram® BMI standards for youth take into account age and gender.