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Waist to Hip Ratio


Overview:
Waist to hip ratio (WHR) is a tool that can be used to determine your overall health risk. Individuals who carry more weight around the waist (apple-shaped) are more at risk for health problems including heart disease than people who carry more weight around the hips (pear-shaped).

Detailed Information:
Waist to hip ratio (WHR) is a tool that can be used to determine your overall health risk. Individuals who carry more weight around the waist (apple-shaped) are more at risk for health problems including heart disease than people who carry more weight around the hips (pear-shaped). To determine if you are carrying too much weight around your midsection, measure your waist size and hip size (see instructions below) to determine your WHR. Once you have obtained your waist and hip measurements, divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement to determine your WHR. Or use the Advanced Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator. This tool allows you to input your height and weight as well as waist and hip measurements. The tool will then provide you with two important numbers which allow you to determine the estimated impact of your present body weight and shape on your overall health.

Recent studies indicate that waist to hip ratio (WHR) may be as good as or a better indicator for determining health risk than BMI. If you are male your WHR should fall under 0.95. If you are female it should fall under 0.78. WHR indicates weight distribution (body shape), which can be significant in your overall health. Although body fat distribution is in part hereditary, it is important to eat right and exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight regardless of your body shape.

Measuring Waist Size

Step 1. PREPARE

Use a soft (cloth, plastic, or paper) tape measure to measure your waist size. Pull up or remove your shirt and lower the waistline of your skirt, shorts or pants, if needed, so that your middle is exposed. Stand in front of a mirror if possible to make sure you’re positioning the tape measure correctly.

Step 2. FIND THE RIGHT SPOT

Press your fingers into your torso near the right side of your waist. Push your fingers into your skin to find the bony pelvis. Keep pushing and moving your fingers along the edge of the hip bone until you find the top curve of the bone. This spot is known as the iliac crest. The highest point will be located on the side of your torso, just underneath the lower portion of your ribcage. Generally, this spot will be at around the same level as your bellybutton, and near, or at, the narrowest part of your torso.

Step 3. WRAP THE TAPE MEASURE

Position the tape measure horizontally at this spot at the top of your hip bone. Then circle it around your abdomen and entire torso. Make sure that the tape lies horizontal on all sides of your torso. Place the end of the tape measure which reads “0” at the spot on the tape where the loop circles your waist completely.

Step 4. MEASURE

Avoid sucking in your gut. Stand up straight and exhale gently as you pull the tape so that it stays taut against your body, but make sure it is not squeezing into your skin. Look at the number at the point where the “0” end of the tape intersects around your waist. This is your waist measurement.

UNDERSTANDING RESULTS

A waist size of >40 inches (>102cm) for men, and a waist size of >35 inches (>88 cm) for women is considered high-risk. A high number may indicate that you have excess fat in your abdominal area. If your BMI is 25 or higher, this can increase your risk of certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia (uncontrolled cholesterol), high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.

Measuring Hip Size

Step 1. PREPARE

Use a soft (cloth, plastic, or paper) tape measure again to assess your hip size. Pull up or remove your shirt and lower the waistline of your skirt, shorts or pants, if needed, so that your middle is exposed. Stand in front of a mirror, if possible, to make sure you’re positioning the tape measure correctly.

Step 2. FIND THE RIGHT SPOT

Press your fingers into your torso near the right side of your waist. Push your fingers into your skin to find the bony pelvis. Keep pushing and moving your fingers to the left along the top pf the pelvic bone until you reach the middle of the upper edge of the pelvic bone. This would be approximately in the midline of the front of your body.

Step 3. WRAP THE TAPE MEASURE

Position the tape measure horizontally at this spot. Then circle it around your hips and torso. Make sure that the tape lies horizontal on all sides of your torso. Place the end of the tape measure which reads “0” at the spot on the tape where the loop circles your hips completely.

Step 4. MEASURE

Stand up straight and exhale gently as you pull the tape so that it stays taut against your body, but make sure it is not squeezing into your skin. Look at the number at the point where the “0” end of the tape intersects around your hips. This is your hip measurement.

UNDERSTANDING RESULTS

Hip sizes vary widely. By itself, hip size gives no indication of health risk. Rather, it is the waist to hip ratio" (WHR) which is more important in understanding possible health risk.

Last updated: 08-Feb-09


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