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Waist to hip ratio


Related terms
Author information
Charts and calculators

Related Terms
  • Apple-shape, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, fat distribution, high cholesterol, hips, obesity, metabolic syndrome, pear-shape, waist, WHR.

  • Waist to hip ratio (WHR) is the circumference of the waist (smallest part of the torso, usually slightly above the navel) divided by the circumference of the hips (largest part of the buttocks). This ratio may indicate body fat distribution and obesity and potentially the risk for certain diseases, such as diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
  • Waist circumference and body mass index (BMI) are also tools used to define body fat distribution and obesity.

Theory / Evidence
  • Research has indicated that body shape may be related to an increased risk of certain diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high cholesterol. An "apple-shape" (weight carried primarily around the waist) seems to have a higher risk of these diseases than a "pear-shape" (weight carried primarily around the hips.) These shapes can be defined by comparing waist circumference to hip circumference, or waist-hip ration (WHR).
  • According to the American Heart Association, WHR is less accurate than body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference and is no longer recommended.

Author information
  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (

  1. American Heart Association. 8 May 2006.

Charts and calculators
  • In order to calculate your approximate waist-hip ratio, answer the following questions:
  • What is your waist circumference (measure around the smallest part of your torso, generally slightly above the navel)?
  • What is your hip circumference (measure around the largest part of your buttocks)?
  • Then, divide your waist circumference by your hips circumference: waist/hips.
  • The result is your ratio. For women, a healthy ratio is 0.8 or lower, and for men it is 1.0 or lower.
  • Note: The lowest healthy ratio is not known. Although the waist to hip ratio may indicate where fat is distributed on the body, it does not predict the risk of any disease. In fact, the American Heart Association does not recommend using the waist-hip ratio because it is less accurate than body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference alone.

Copyright © 2011 Natural Standard (

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.

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