What is the waist-to-hip ratio?
Your waist-hip ratio is simply the circumference of your waist divided by the circumference of your hips. I often use this method with my clients because it is a quick and easy measure of fat distribution. This method can give you an good indication of overall health, without the use of scales. It also indicates whether you have an apple or pear body shape.
If more weight is carried around the waist than the hips it is an indication of a higher risk of developing certain health conditions, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. There is an even greater association between waist-hip-ratio and cardiovascular risk for women. Apple-shape figures carry a higher risk than pear-shaped figures. This is true even if your BMI is in the normal range, which is what makes it a good guide.
The World health Organisation advises a waist-to-hip ratio of over 1.0 indicates obesity which carries an increased risk to health. This method is not recommended for children, adults under 5ft tall or those with a BMI over 35.
In order to get an accurate reading it is important to take your measurments at the right place on the body, This will give you the correct ratio number. To get the optimum reading follow the guidelines below.
To calculate your own waist-hip ratio using a tape measure:
Waist measurement – Standing up straight, breath out and place your tape measure around the smallest part of your waist, slightly above your belly button, and record the measurement.
Hip measurement – place your tape measure on your hips, around the widest part of your buttocks.
Divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference using a calculator to find out your waist-to-hip ratio.
A healthy ratio for women is 0.85 or less and a healthy ratio for men is 0.9 or less.
You can also use the waist-to-hip ratio calculator here.
References & Bibliography
Comparison of waist-to-hip ratio and other obesity indices as predictors of cardiovascular disease risk in people with type-2 diabetes: a prospective cohort study from ADVANCE
Waist-hip ratio as a predictor of myocardial infarction risk. A systematic review and meta-analysis