The waist-to-hip ratio has been one of fashion and healthcare’s most widely discussed topics. Since the early Victorian era, women and men have consciously tried to get as low a waist-to-hip ratio as possible. At the time, some even wore corsets to hold their stomachs in. However, this ongoing trend makes us wonder why the waist to hip ratio is so important and its impact on our health.

Aesthetic sensibilities aside, the waist to hip ratio tells us more about the fat distribution in one’s body than measuring BMI. Individuals with a healthy BMI can also be at increased risk of developing health problems if they store too much fat around their abdominal region. This risk makes it essential for us to measure our waist to hip ratio precisely. Then, we must take early preventive measures and implement the necessary dietary and lifestyle modifications needed.

Measuring one’s waist to hip ratio is unbelievably simple and can be done by anyone at home just with the help of a measuring tape. However, studies show that waist-to-hip ratios of 0.7 and 0.85 are ideal for women and men. These ideal ratios are good for aesthetic purposes and an indicator of good health. However, one can consider anything within a ± 0.1 range ideal for ensuring a low risk of developing health conditions. Individuals with a waist-to-hip ratio higher than the prescribed ideal range must consult dieticians to help them make the necessary changes in their daily routine.

Waist to Hip Ratio: The Formula 

To determine the waist to hip ratio, one needs to follow just two elementary steps.

  • First, one needs to measure the circumference of the waist at the narrowest part (in inches or cm),
  • One must then measure the hip circumference at the broadest part (in inches or cm).
  • Waist Hip Ratio (WHR) = waist circumference/hip circumference (cm/cm or inch/inch).

The measurement tape shouldn’t be too light or loose around your body as it will give the wrong ratio. Take a deep breath and exhale before taking the measurements. Ensure that the sizes of both the waist and the hips are in the same unit.

Waist-To-Hip Ratio: Circumference of Waist/Circumference of Hip

Stand straight with your feet close together, arms at the side, and weight evenly distributed. Take the measurements right after you breathe out. Previous research by the Nature Journal has determined how one might categorise the waist to hip ratios for men and women.

Health Risk in Women

  • Women are at low risk if the Waist to Hip Ratio is 0.80 or lower
  • They are at moderate risk if the ratio is between 0.81 and 0.85
  • Anything above 0.86 means they are at higher risk

Health Risk in Men

  • Women are at low risk if the Waist to Hip Ratio is 0.95 or lower
  • They are at moderate risk if the ratio is between 0.96 and 1.00
  • Anything above 1.00 means they are at higher risk

Here are Some Examples to Understand Waist Hip Ratio Better

If a woman has a waist circumference of 30 inches. the following are the waist to hip ratios depending on the circumference of her hips.

  • 34-inch hips, the ratio becomes 30/34 = 0.88, which indicates a high health risk.
  • 36-inch hips, the ratio becomes 30/36 = 0.83, which indicates a moderate health risk.
  • 38-inch hips, the ratio becomes 30/38 = 0.78, which indicates a low health risk.

If a man has a waist circumference of 34 inches, the following are the waist to hip ratios depending on the circumference of his hips.

  • 30-inch hips, the ratio becomes 34/30 = 1.13, which indicates a high health risk.
  • 35-inch hips, the ratio becomes 34/35 = 0.97, which indicates a moderate health risk.
  • 37-inch hips, the ratio becomes 34/37 = 0.91, which indicates a low health risk.

Note that in these examples, the waist ratios of men and women fall under the advisable range of lower than 40 inches and 35 inches, respectively. Individuals with waist circumference higher than the advisable range must consult their doctors or dieticians and chart an ideal dietary and lifestyle plan. This plan will help them bring their waist measurements down and reduce the risks of developing adverse health conditions.

Waist to Hip Ratio: How Does it Affect Your Health?

The waist to hip ratio is a quick measurement of the fat distribution around one’s abdominal region. Individuals with a normal and healthy BMI may also have a high waist to hip ratio based on how one’s body stores fat. Conversely, people who carry more weight around their midsection find themselves at a more considerable risk of developing health conditions in the longer run.

Fertility

Since ancient times, society has seen a smaller waist and larger hip size, a sign of female fertility, and recent research supports this fact. Regardless of one’s BMI, females with a waist to hip ratio of more than 0.80 have a lower pregnancy rate than women with a lower waist-to-hip ratio. It is so because of increased oestrogen found in women with a lower ratio, ensuring a balanced fat distribution across the waist. As a result, the hips ensure a higher fertility rate.

Diabetes

Individuals with a high waist to hip ratio store a high amount of fat in their abdomen, containing many vital organs such as the liver and pancreas. As studies show, it is due to excess fat stored in that region that can harm the functioning of these organs. We should remember that such a situation is likely to play a crucial role in insulin secretion leading to a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Heart Health

Individuals with high amounts of visceral fats and abdominal obesity are more likely to develop cardiovascular diseases. Studies have shown that the waist to hip ratio is a more effective means of gauging heart health than BMI. Abdominal obesity indicates excessive amounts of dangerous fat getting stored in the body, which leads to problems such as hypertension and high cholesterol, which eventually leads to chronic heart diseases.

Body Weight and Waist Hip Ratio

A person’s BMI and waist to hip ratio are closely related. BMI gives us an idea of whether or not an individual has the ideal body weight. Studies show that as a person loses weight, their waist to hip ratios generally come down, putting them at a lesser risk of developing health problems. In addition, as a person gains weight, their BMI level increases and puts them at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular illnesses and type-2 diabetes.

Ways to Reduce Your Waist to Hip Ratio

Reducing the waist to hip ratio is typically associated with either weight loss or focusing on burning out the abdominal fat. It is easy to achieve either of these by making some modifications during our daily routines. Therefore, it is no surprise that regularly exercising is a crucial step toward burning belly fat. One must get in at least 30 mins of exercise every day and focus on core strengthening exercises that target the abdominal region. Additionally, we should ensure healthy dietary habits.

We can’t emphasise the importance of avoiding excess junk food, fried food, sugary and salty foods, and preserved foods. Also, one must keep in mind that only eating healthy isn’t sufficient to ensure a reduction in the waist to hip ratio. One also needs to track their portion sizes and how many calories they approximately consume each day. It is advisable to consult the doctor or nutritionist/dietician before making any drastic changes to one’s diet and lifestyle.

The Impact of Demographics on WHR

Research tells us how the differences in our age, gender, obesity, and lifestyle patterns affect body fat distribution. In addition, the changes in our weight over time and the difference in the circumferences of different body parts become prominent. Important points to note are:

  • One can’t classify the difference in hip circumference on the demographics.
  • With age, the waist circumference in men increases by a greater proportion than in women, thus impacting the WHR.
  • Increases in the age of both men and women are directly proportional to the rise in WHR.
  • Usually, the changes in women’s waist and hip circumference over time are proportional and have a low impact on WHR change.
  • While one may control WHR to an extent, there isn’t enough data to suggest that it will positively impact cardiovascular risk factors.

Weight Loss and WHR

Studies suggest that weight loss significantly affects a person’s WHR, and it varies according to the gender of the individual. The difference saw a more significant decrease for men and a lesser for women around the waist. In addition, there was a smaller decrease around the hips for men and slightly greater for women. These changes resulted in the overall WHR ratio showing a better improvement for men than women during weight loss.

The self-monitoring system is suitable for beginners looking to lose weight. Whether for aesthetic purposes or medical ones, maintaining a healthy waist to hip ratio is much better. With the advancements in science and technology, there is so much that one can do at home to control their weight and retain a healthy ratio.

Conclusion

The waist to hip ratio is one of the most straightforward means of measuring one’s abdominal fat levels. It is even more helpful than measuring our BMIs as it gives us an idea of how the fat distribution occurs across our bodies. People who store most of their fat in their middle section, as found in apple-shaped body types, are often at a much higher risk of developing chronic health problems and postural imbalance than individuals having a lower waist to hip ratio.

Pear and hourglass body shapes with a low waist-to-hip ratio are associated with better cardiovascular and reproductive health. They also are the most desirable measurements universally. Simple lifestyle modifications and healthy dietary habits are all one needs to cut down on the excess abdominal fat and ensure a fitted waist to hip ratio to keep health problems at bay.

We can directly link the WHR ratio to weight gain or weight loss. While it is not practical to completely change our body type, it is a good idea to maintain a low WHR ratio. The purpose is not just aesthetic but mainly medical. Even if you decide to measure and track the ratio at home, always consult an expert before making significant lifestyle changes. Our sleep cycles, eating patterns, exercise routines, and other demographic factors play a role.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the ideal waist-to-hip ratio?

A. There isn’t a fixed specific ideal waist to hip ratio, but according to studies by the World Health Organisation, the ideal waist to hip ratio for females is 0.80 or lesser. For males, it is 0.90 or lesser. Anything above it puts one at a higher risk of health problems.

Q. Is 0.75 a good waist-to-hip ratio?

A. A waist to hip ratio of 0.75 is suitable for males and females. It indicates that the fat is distributed evenly across one’s waist and hips and suggests that a person is at a lower risk of health problems. But it is still essential that one keeps a close check on their lifestyle and dietary habits to live a healthy life.

Q. What is too low for a waist-to-hip ratio?

A. The ideal waist to hip ratio for females is between 0.6 to 0.8. While ratios between 0.65 and 0.75 are below average, any ratio below 0.55 is dangerously low. The usage of corsets and waist trainers often brings the waist to hip ratios down to 0.3, which is extremely dangerous for one’s health. Such a low waist to hip ratio hampers the proper functioning of vital organs in our bodies leading to serious health issues.

Q. What waist-to-hip ratio is considered to be an hourglass?

A. Ratios between 0.68 and 0.7 are considered hourglass proportions, which many women tag as ‘ideal’ proportions. However, whether a person has an hourglass shape also depends on the waist to chest ratio and not just on WHR.

Q. What hip size is considered curvy?

A. Usually, we consider hip sizes above 36 or 37 inches curvy and hip sizes below 34 to be a slim silhouette. Also, the waist-to-hip ratios of curvy individuals are often in the range of 0.7 to 0.8.

Q. What is the golden ratio for women’s bodies?

A. Mathematically, the golden ratio is set at 1: 1.618, which means that the circumference of a woman’s hips would be almost 60% more than the circumference of her waist, which is close to impossible. Hence the golden ratio is not set as the gold standard for measuring waist to hip ratios. Instead, the ratio of 0.68 – 0.7 is the most desirable.

Q. What is the most attractive hip size?

A. There is no particular hip size that is the most attractive. Instead, hip sizes about 1.4 to 1.5 times the waist size are considered the most appealing. For example, for a person having a waist circumference between 24 to 28 inches, a hip size of 36 inches would be regarded as the most attractive.

Q. What is the ideal waist size?

A. The ideal waist size differs from person to person based on bone structure, height, age, and gender. However, studies show that the ideal waist size for women is less than 35 inches and that for men is less than 40 inches. Staying within this range puts one at a lower risk of developing obesity-related health problems.

Q. Is the waist-to-hip ratio important?

A. BMI doesn’t often give us a clear picture of how much abdominal fat a person has. A person with a healthy BMI might also have excess fat stored in their abdominal region. Waist to hip ratio is thus essential as it gives us a better idea of the amount of abdominal or visceral fats in our bodies. The higher one’s waist to hip ratio, the closer one is to obesity and related health issues.

Q. What waist circumference is obese?

A. A waist circumference of more than 35 inches in women and a circumference of more than 40 inches in men is considered obese. It correlates with a BMI of 30.0 and above, both in the case of men and women.

Q. What is the correct BMI for my age?

A. For any individual above 18 years of age. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered ideal and healthy. Anything above 30.0 is considered obese, and anything below 18.5 is deemed underweight.

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