Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR) and waist circumference

Because not only malnutrition or a low body weight is a threat for your health, but also overweight.  This pages provides information on measuring the body fat mass and to identify patient's with an increased risk for cardiovascular diseases.  It is not only important to assess the total amount of body fat, but also the distribution of the fat counts. Most people store their body fat in two distinct ways: around their middle (apple shape) and around their hips (pear shape).  

The Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR)

The Waist-to-hip Ratio (WHR) looks at the proportion of fat stored on your body around your waist and hip. It is a simple but useful measure of fat distribution. The Waist Hip Ratio is calculated by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement, since the hips are the widest part of your buttocks.The formula is: WHR= waist circumference / hip circumference. Having an apple shape (carrying extra weight around the stomach) is riskier for your health than having a pear shape (carrying extra weight around your hips or thighs). This is because body shape and health risks are linked. If you have more weight around your waist you have a greater risk of lifestyle related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes than those with weight around their hips. Ideally, women should have a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.8 or less, whereas men should have a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.95 or less. 

The waist circumference

If you are carrying fat around the middle, mainly around your waist, you are more likely to develop health problems than if you carry fat mainly in your hips and thighs. This  appears to be true even if your BMI falls within the normal weight range. If you are a woman with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches (88cm) or a man with a waist measurement of more than 40 inches (102 cm), you may have a higher disease risk than people with smaller waist measurements because of where their fat lies. It is easy to measure your waist circumference. Place a tape measure around your bare abdomen just above your hip bone. Be sure that the tape is snug, but does not squeeze or compress your skin, and is parallel to the floor. Relax, exhale, and measure your waist. The numbers in the table below count for white adults. Certain ethnic groups like Hindus or African Americans are extremely sensitive for accumulation of fat in the belly. These groups are more sensitive to develop diabetes or coronary diseases. 

Relation between waistcircumference and the risk for coronary disease


Low risk

High risk

Increased Higher risk


< 94 cm

94 - 99 cm

> 100 cm


< 80 cm

80 - 89 cm

> 90 cm

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