UPDATE as of 12/23/2010: The manufacturer responded to our original review and the Escali User’s Guide now includes guidelines for selecting “athlete” and “non-athlete” modes, which can dramatically affect the values provided for body-fat percentage. This raised the rating from 3 to 4 stars with this enhancement.
Body-fat percentage is an important indicator of overall health and fitness. There are several ways to measure body fat, including caliper measurements and hydrostatic testing (considered the gold standard). Over the past decade, numerous products have been introduced to measure body fat at home, most utilizing a technology called bioelectrical impedance. These devices calculate body fat by a formula that takes into account age, gender, body weight and the amount of electric resistance encountered between the electrodes, which are usually pressed against the feet or hands. While most manufacturers claim their products are highly accurate, there is generally a 2-4% margin of error.
The Escali Ultra Slim Health Monitor Scale features a sleek, modern design and a large display with easy-to-read numbers. The scale stores data for four users; each user inputs relevant data including height, age, sex and fitness level (athlete or normal). Once the information has been inputted, the user steps on the scale, aligning the feet with the surface electrodes. An undetectable current passes through the foot and up the leg and circles back down the other side—the amount of resistance the current encounters is recorded and used to calculate body fat. Weight is displayed immediately while body fat percentage is displayed a few seconds later, followed by body-water percentage and total muscle mass.
The revised instruction manual now offers guidelines for determining fitness level (generally based on the time and intensity of weekly workouts). This is a significant improvement as this determination can dramatically alter the results. For example, one user measured 17.2% body fat on the non-athlete mode and 12.1% when using the athlete mode—a deviation of more than 5%.
In our comparisons to measurements taken with calipers, the Escali Scale was accurate within 2 to 8 percentage points (depending upon which mode was chosen). As with any bioelectrical impedance device, it is important to be adequately (but not overly) hydrated and to measure body fat at the same time and under the same conditions every day. When used on a consistent basis, the Escali Scale enables users to track both weight and body-fat percentage. However, it is important to note that body-fat changes occur very slowly and, unlike weight changes, may not show up for some time.
What we liked:
- Easy-to-use device for measuring weight, body-fat percentage and body-water percentage
- Features a sleek, modern design an easy-to-read display
- Body-water percentage measurements increase reliability of results
What we didn't like:
- Variability of up to 8%
- Lack of changes in body-fat percentage may be discouraging to some dieters/exercisers
Revised review conducted: December 23, 2010