To find your waist-to-hip ratio, measure
the waist at its narrowest point, then measure the hips at the
Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement
waist _________ (at or below navel) ÷ hip_________
(where buttocks are the largest)
According to the American Heart Association,
it is healthier to be pear shaped (for your mid section to be
smaller than your hips) than apple-shaped (for your mid section
to be bulky).
Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) looks at the relationship between the
differences in the measurements of your waist and hips. Most people
store their body fat in two distinct ways, often called the "apple"
and "pear" shapes. These terms refer to where you carry
your weight - around your middle (apple) or around your hips (pear).
It is generally accepted that, for most people, carrying extra
weight around their middle ("apple shape") increases
health risks more than carrying extra weight around their hips
or thighs ("pear shape"). Women with waist-to-hip ratios
of more than 0.8 or men with waist-to-hip ratios of more than
1.0 are "apples." They are at increased health risk
because of their fat distribution. Keeping the hip waist ratio
below this range helps you to keep host of diseases away and also
to avoid lower back pain.
Overall obesity, however, is still of greater risk than body fat
store locations or WHR Ratio. It is not only important to look
at your healthy weight range, but also to take into account where
you carry that weight. Regional patterns of fat deposit are controlled
genetically and differ between, and among, men and women. Fat
stores that are carried around your middle (apple shape) are believed
to increase your health risk for diabetes, heart disease, and
But, What About Waist Circumference?
According to the National Institutes of
Health, a high Waist Circumference (WC) is associated with an
increased risk for type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, hypertension
and cardiovascular disease when the BMI is between 25 and 34.9.
(A BMI greater than 25 is considered overweight and a BMI greater
than 30 is considered obese.) Waist Circumference can be useful
for those people categorized as normal or overweight in terms
of BMI. (For example, an athlete with increased muscle mass may
have a BMI greater than 25 - making him or her overweight on the
BMI scale - but a Waist Circumference measurement would most likely
indicate that he or she is, in fact, not overweight). Changes
in Waist Circumference over time can indicated an increase or
decrease in abdominal fat. Increased abdominal fat is associated
with an increased risk of heart disease.
To determine your Waist Circumference, locate
the upper hip bone and place a measuring tape around the abdomen
(ensuring that the tape measure is horizontal). The tape measure
should be snug but should not cause compressions on the skin.
Sources: USDA, NAS, CSTF, ACSM,