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Waist to hip ratio

Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR) measurement can be used to help determine obesity. At the same time Waist to Hip Ratio helps indicate increased risk of disease and mortality. Ratios higher than 1.0 in men and 0.8 in women may indicate increased risk.

Thanks to Waist to Hip Ratio the distribution of fat is evaluated by dividing waist size by hip size. The purpose of Waist to Hip Ratio is to determine the ratio of waist circumference to the hip circumference, as this has been shown to be related to the risk of coronary heart disease.

Waist to Hip Ratio is very easy test and the only equipment is needed – the tape measure.


Waist to Hip Ratio Measurement

1. Measure your actual waist circumference (put the measuring tape around you at the level of your belly button).

2. Measure your hip circumference (at the widest part of your hips).

3. Divide the waist circumference by the hip circumference and you will get the ratio.

Waist to Hip Ratio Chart

Waist to Hip Ratio advantages & use

Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR)is a simple measure that can be taken at home by anyone to monitor their own body composition levels.

The Waist to Hip Ratio can be used to determine the coronary artery disease risk factor associated with obesity.

The basis of Waist to Hip Ratio as a coronary disease risk factor is the assumption that fat stored around the waist poses a greater risk to health than fat stored elsewhere in the body.

Waist to Hip Ratio Chart

Male Female Health Risk Based on WHR
 0.95 or below 0.80 or below        Low Risk
     0.96 to 1.0 0.81 to 0.85       Moderate Risk
         1.0+        0.85+         High Risk

Your health is not only affected by how much body fat you have, but also by where most of the fat is located on your body. People who tend to gain weight mostly in their hips and buttocks have roughly a pear body shape, while people who tend to gain weight mostly in the abdomen have more of an apple body shape.

If you have an apple shaped body rather than a pear shaped body, you are at increased risk for the health problems associated with obesity, such as diabetes, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure – that’s something you inherited, and have had since birth – but you can take special care to keep your weight at a healthy level, eat nutritiously, exercise as appropriate, and maintain other healthy lifestyle habits.

As long as you avoid excess weight, being an apple shaped body or a pear shaped body doesn’t put you at special risk – it’s just one of those things to keep in mind. And even pear shaped people should take particular care to keep their weight within normal limits, to avoid the health problems associated with obesity.

Waist to Hip Ratio – apple or a pear?

Apple or a pear?

Research has shown that people with a lot of fat stored in their tummy area (“apple” shaped people) are more likely to develop heart disease than those who store fat round their bottom and thighs (“pears”). It is possible to have a high Body Mass Index (BMI) and a normal waist measurement if you are a fit, lean, muscular person. This is why your waist to hip ratio is a better guide to your risk of heart disease.

The higher the ratio the greater the risk of heart disease and strokes.

Current evidence is that a ratio less than 0.85 if you are a woman or 0.90 if you are a man is associated with a relatively low risk. If your ratio is greater than 1.00 you are at significant risk.

There is a direct correlation between Waist to Hip Ratio and health risks:

BMI and WHR risk groups

Waist Circumference

Waist circumference may be a better indicator of obesity-related diseases than BMI, especially among particular populations. The elderly, with less muscle mass, tend to have underestimated BMI values.

Having a history of alcoholism, which can cause central obesity syndrome, is a good indicator that waist circumference should be measured. Finally, if you are physically active and have a lot of muscle mass, but your BMI is above 25, you should certainly measure your waist.

Fat located inside the abdominal wall (visceral fat) contributes more to risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes than does fat located in other areas (Björntorp 1992). Some experts suggest waist circumference may be a better predictor of visceral fat than widely used waist-to-hip ratio (Pouliot, et al 1994). Waist circumference may overestimate health risk in tall individuals and underestimate health risk in short individuals (Welborn, et al 2003) and weight trained individuals, or those with thicker waist musculature.

Carrying fat primarily around your waist, or being “apple-shaped”, puts you at much greater risk of developing obesity-related health problems. The most practical way to determine whether you have too much abdominal fat is to measure your waist circumference:

1. Find the upper hip bone and the top of the right iliac crest.

2. Place the measuring tape horizontally around the abdomen area at the level of the iliac crest.

3. Before you read the measuring tape, make sure that it is snug but isn’t too tight on your skin (doesn’t compress the skin), and that it is parallel to the floor.

4. You can then read the measurement at the end of a normal expiration (breathing out).

It is well known that men are at a higher risk of developing heart disease if they have a waist circumference higher than 102 cm, and women have a higher risk if their waist circumference is higher than 88 cm.

Waist Circumference

Standard waist measurements can be used for health risk predictions:

  • Men: no greater than 102 cm (40 inches)
  • Women: no greater than 88 cm (34.6 inches)
  • Post-menopause women: no greater than 110 cm (43.3 inches)

Waist circumference above 39 inches (100cm), regardless of gender, is a strong risk factor for insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a key player in metabolic syndrome and the precursor to type 2 diabetes.

Additionally, abdominal fat contains higher amounts of visceral fat. Visceral fat is made by your liver, turned into cholesterol, and released it into the bloodstream where it forms plaque on the artery walls. That’s why you are more likely to have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease when you have excess abdominal fat.

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