What is waist to hip ratio?
Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is another measurement you can use to determine whether excess weight is putting your health at risk.
Whereas BMI calculates the ratio of your weight to your height, WHR measures the ratio of your waist circumference to your hip circumference, determining how much fat is stored on your waist, hips, and buttocks.
This is important because not all excess weight carries the same risks to your health. People who have more weight around their midsections are at higher risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and premature death, compared to people who carry more of their weight in their hips and thighs.
Importantly, you can have a healthy BMI and still have excess fat around your midsection, meaning you could still be at risk of developing certain diseases.
How to calculate your waist-to-hip ratio
Tape measures at the ready! Here’s how to get an accurate waist-to-hip ratio measurement:
- Stand up straight and breathe out. Use a tape measure to check the distance around the smallest part of your waist, just above your belly button. This is your waist circumference.
- Then measure the distance around the largest part of your hips — the widest part of your buttocks. This is your hip circumference.
- Calculate your WHR by dividing your waist circumference by your hip circumference.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a waist-to-hip ratio of more than 0.9 for men and 0.85 for women indicates an increased health risk.
Waist-to-hip ratio chart
|Low||0.8 or lower||0.95 or lower|
|High||0.86 or higher||1.0 or higher|
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What about BMI?
A BMI calculator is a good starting point when it comes to assessing weight-related health risk, and whether you might benefit from losing weight.
While BMI continues to be the best estimate of weight-related health risk at a population level, it doesn’t take wider determinants of health into account, such as family history, lifestyle or body composition.