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Waist-to-Hip Ratio

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Updated July 30, 2009

Definition: Knowing your waist-to-hip ratio is one way to determine your risk of heart disease and obesity-related illnesses and conditions. Experts know that it isn't just about how much body fat you have, but how that body fat is distributed throughout the body. People who carry excess weight around the waist are often at a great risk of heart disease than people who carry excess weight below the waist.

How to Calculate Your Waist-to-Hip Ratio

  • Measure your waist around the narrowest point between the ribs and the hips. It helps if you look in a mirror and measure after you've exhaled.
  • Measure your hips around the fullest part of your buttocks with your heels together.
  • Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. For women, a healthy waist-to-hip ratio is .86 or less and, for men, a healthy ratio is .95 or less.

Example:

Mary has a waist measurement of 30 inches and a hip measurement of 39 inches. 30/39=.77, which means Mary has a healthy waist-to-hip ratio.

Sources:

American College of Sports Medicine. (2006). ACSM's Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Seidell, JC. Waist circumference and waist/hip ratio in relation to all-cause mortality, cancer and sleep apnea. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jul 29.

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