Waist To Hip Ratio

Waist to hip ratio (WHR) is a widely used measure that estimates the fat distribution in your body. It is an indicator of the level of internal fat that surrounds organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver, digestive organs and pancreas.

How to measure your waist and hip

You can either measure your waist and hip yourself or your doctor can do it for you. To measure it yourself:

  • 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.

Use this simple tool to calculate your waist to hip ratio. Waist to hip ratio is a widely used measure to find out whether you are at higher risk for certain health issues.

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According to the World Health Organization, a healthy WHR is:

  • 0.9 or less in men
  • 0.85 or less for women

In both men and women, a WHR of 1.0 or higher increases the risk for heart disease and other conditions that are linked to being overweight.

Waist-to-hip ratio chart

Health riskWomenMen
Low0.80 or lower0.95 or lower
High0.86 or higher1.0 or higher

Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is one of several measurements a health professional can do to see if you’re overweight, and if that excess weight is putting your health at risk. Unlike your body mass index (BMI), which calculates the ratio of your weight to your height, WHR measures the ratio of your waist circumference to your hip circumference. It determines how much fat is stored on your waist, hips and buttocks.

Not all excess weight is the same when it comes to your health risks. People who carry more weight around their midsection (an apple-shaped body) are at higher risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and premature death than those who carry more of their weight in their hips and thighs (a pear-shaped body). Even if your BMI is within a normal range, your risk for disease may be increased.