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  • Writer's pictureLisa Smith

How to Calculate Your Waist-Hip Ratio

Updated: May 3

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A Key to Optimal Health and Weight Loss

When it comes to achieving and maintaining good health, there's more to consider than just body weight and body mass index (BMI). One important measurement that provides valuable insights into overall health and weight management is the waist-hip ratio (WHR).

I often use this method with my clients because it is a quick and easy measure of fat distribution. It can give you a good indication of overall health, without the use of scales. The ratio also indicates whether you have an apple or pear body shape.

In this blog post, we will explore the significance of WHR, why it is crucial for health, and how it can aid in weight loss efforts and improving overall metabolic health.

What is Waist-Hip Ratio?

Waist-hip ratio is a simple yet powerful tool used to assess body fat distribution. It involves measuring the circumference of the waist and the hips and then calculating the ratio between the two.

The waist measurement is taken, in centimetres, at the narrowest point, typically above the navel, while the hip measurement is taken at the widest part of the buttocks. To calculate the waist-hip ratio, divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement.

You can also use the waist-to-hip ratio calculator here.

The Significance of Waist-Hip Ratio for Health

The waist-hip ratio offers valuable insights into an individual's health status, as it serves as an indicator of fat distribution, particularly the distribution of visceral fat—the fat that surrounds the organs in the abdominal cavity.

Higher levels of visceral fat have been linked to an increased risk of numerous health conditions, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease: Excess visceral fat is associated with higher blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and an increased risk of heart disease and stroke.

  • Type 2 diabetes: Visceral fat is closely linked to insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

  • Metabolic syndrome: The presence of visceral fat is a key factor in the development of metabolic syndrome, which includes a cluster of conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess abdominal fat.

  • Certain cancers: Studies have shown that increased waist-hip ratios are associated with an elevated risk of developing cancers such as breast, colon, and endometrial cancer.

By monitoring your waist-hip ratio, you can gain insights into your risk factors for these health conditions and take proactive steps towards improving your overall well-being.

Waist-Hip Ratio and Weight Loss

In addition to its significance for health, understanding your waist-hip ratio can be a helpful tool when embarking on a weight loss journey.

Here's how it can aid in your weight loss efforts:

  1. Targeted approach: The waist-hip ratio provides information about where your body stores fat. Individuals with higher WHR values, indicating excess abdominal fat, may benefit from focusing on targeted exercises and dietary modifications to reduce this specific fat storage area.

  2. Motivation and progress tracking: Tracking your waist-hip ratio along with your weight can give you a more comprehensive view of your progress. While weight alone might not always accurately reflect changes in body composition, a decrease in your waist-hip ratio suggests a reduction in abdominal fat and improved body composition.

  3. Health improvements: As you work towards achieving a healthier waist-hip ratio, you will likely experience various health benefits. Losing excess abdominal fat can lead to improved insulin sensitivity, reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, and enhanced metabolic function.

Nutrition Tips for a Healthy Waist-Hip Ratio

nutritional cooking with vegetables

Nutrition is Key for Metabolic Health

To improve your waist-hip ratio and promote overall health, consider implementing the following strategies:

  • Balanced nutrition: Focus on consuming a well-balanced diet rich in whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. These foods are rich in fibre which is great for your gut health. Aim to create a calorie deficit if weight loss is your goal.

  • Regular exercise: Engage in both cardiovascular exercises, such as jogging or cycling, and strength training exercises to help reduce overall body fat and promote muscle growth.

  • Stress management: High levels of stress can contribute to weight gain, particularly around the abdominal area. Practice stress-reducing techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises.

  • Adequate sleep: Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, as poor sleep is associated with weight gain, cravings and increased appetite.

By incorporating these lifestyle changes into your daily routine, you can improve your waist-hip ratio, enhance your overall health, and support your weight loss efforts.

In conclusion, waist-hip ratio is a valuable measurement that provides insights into both health status and weight management.

Monitoring your measurements and taking steps to maintain a healthy waist-hip ratio can help to reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, achieve a healthier body composition, and enhance your overall well-being.

Remember, a healthy waist-hip ratio is not just about appearance; it is a crucial aspect of your long-term health and vitality helping you take charge of your health and weight loss.

Nutritional Therapy for Metabolic Health

lisa smith nutritional therapist

I am a BANT Registered Nutritional Therapist and health coach based, specialising in metabolic health and weight loss for women over 35. I work online with clients all over the UK & Europe.

Take the first step towards a vibrant future and book a free online health review today for a personalised mini consultation. Discover how small, intentional changes today can pave the way for significant transformations tomorrow!

Note: This blog post is meant for informational purposes only and should not replace personalised advice.


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.


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