Waist Hip Ratio

A guide to correct waist and hip measurement

The waist hip ratio is a useful way to help determine where you carry your weight and how it may affect your health. According to research, having a small waist when compared to your hips will give you significant health benefits. Take the test below and find out if you have a healthy waist line.

Start the test by measuring your waist.

Place measuring tape around the most narrow point between your hips and your lower rib cage, which is usually about an inch above your navel.

Stand relaxed. Don’t suck your belly in or stick it out. The tape should not pinch your skin at all. Make sure the tape is flat on your skin all the way around your waist.

Compare your waist circumference to healthy standards. 

Next, measure around your hips.

Wrap the tape around the widest point of your buttocks. Make sure the tape is flat on your hips all the way around, and that it is level (not running at an angle) as it wraps around your body. To get the most accurate results, wear no more than 1 thin layer of clothing for the measurement.

Note: Women tend to carry more body fat around the hips than men, and men tend to carry more body fat around the waist. Due to these differences, as well as larger hip bones in women, the average waist hip ratio (WHR) for men is greater than it is in women.

Now see your results!

The chart below shows your waist hip ratio. You will see the health risk for people similar to you. 

Find your hip measurement at the left side of the chart. Then find your waist inside the chart on the same row as your hip measurement. Are you in the green, yellow, orange or red zone? Your WHR is at the top of the column where you find your weight. 

The average WHR in US women is about 0.79. See the red “X” on the chart.

According to research, for a significantly lower health risk, the average US woman needs to lose 2-3 inches off her waist.  This would give her a WHR of around 0.75.

For a more complete profile of your body weight, take the body mass index test also. Then find your results on the obesity scale, which will analyze your health risk using your body mass index, waist hip ratio and waist circumference. 

The average Waist-Hip Ratio in US men is 0.89. See the red “y” on the chart.

For a significantly lower health risk, the average US male needs to lose 2 inches off his waist. (or a little more if his hips also get smaller with diet and exercise) This would give him a WHR of 0.85. As you can see on the chart, a WHR of 1.0 or higher gives you a high health risk.

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I'm Rob Cowell, PT, the author of whyiexercise.com. I enjoy sharing from my experiences in physical therapy, fitness & athletics. Thanks for visiting!

Body mass index 
Is your weight healthy for your size?

Obesity scale 
See health risks by your body weight and measurements.