The Normal Percentage of Body Fat for Women

Many things play a role in a person's body composition, including gender, diet, fitness level, genetics and activity level. When evaluating body fat, it is important to remember that it's not only high levels of fat that can be a risk, but also levels that are too low. The optimal level of body fat isn't always the lowest and varies with each individual.

Young woman exercising at the gym.
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Low

This classification usually encompasses elite female athletes. For women ages 19 to 29, anything under 19 percent is considered low. Women ages 30 to 39 should be under 21 percent, while women in their 40s should be under 24 percent to be classified as low body fat. Women 50 years old and older who are less than 28 percent body fat are included in the low body fat category. Having too little body fat could impact muscle function and other body systems.

Healthy

Most women who exercise regularly and are in good condition are included in the "healthy" body fat range. Women ages 19 to 29 whose body fat is between 19 to 22 percent are included in the healthy range. Also included are women ages 30 to 39 with body fat between 20 to 24 percent. Women in their 40s with body fat between 23 percent and 27 percent, and women 50 and older with body fat from 27 to 31 percent are well within the healthy range of body fat.

Acceptable

Women with body fat in the acceptable range are those that could improve their body composition and overall wellness by decreasing it slightly, but also don't have any health-related problems caused by excess body fat. The acceptable ranges for classification are between 22 percent and 25 percent for women agess19 to 29, 23 percent and 28 percent for women in their 30s, 26 percent and 31 percent for women in their 40s, and between 31 percent and 34 percent for women ages 50 and older.

High

The "high" body fat category is transitional in nature between the acceptable and obese categories. Only a small percentage of women are included in this category, as most fall either above or below this category. The ranges for this classification are between 25 percent and 30 percent for women ages 19 to 29, 26 percent and 32 percent for women in their 30s, 29 percent and 34 percent for women in their 40s, and between 34 percent and 38 percent for women ages 50 and older.

Obese

The obese category is the most important and dangerous classification. Women who are in this category should work with health-care professionals to do whatever is necessary to get their body fat reduced to the acceptable range. Many health-related medical conditions are associated with obesity and they include but are not limited to heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, certain cancers and others. Women ages 19 to 29 who are above 30 percent are in the obese category. For women in their 30s, the number is anything above 31 percent, and the percentage for women in their 40s is anything above 33 percent. As women go through menopause, it affects weight gain and loss which makes it harder to stay under the 37 percent classification line.

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