Waist To Hip Ratio [WHR]- Why is it important to know

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What is Waist to Hip Ratio?

The waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a measure of the proportion between the circumference of the waist and the hips.

It is used as an indicator of overall health and has been linked to various health conditions like heart health, hormonal changes and joint health. Maintaining a healthy waist-to-hip ratio is important for overall well-being.

After understanding about BMI in my previous post, we now move on to this topic on WAIST TO HIP RATIO.

If you have a look at the picture below, you will get a fair idea why we need to learn about our waist and hip size. The more the waist and hip size, the more the ratio- you will learn all about its effects in the paragraphs below.

Image showing different stages of obesity with increasing waist to hip ratio.
Images show different stages of obesity with increasing waist to hip ratio. Image source: Canva

The picture above shows how one should appear to rule out being overweight/obese.

Coming to the measurements, let’s consider you are visiting your tailor to stitch a pair of trousers. He or she will measure your waist size as well as your hip size to stitch a perfectly fitting trouser as shown in the picture below: –

Measuring waist to hip ratio
Correct way to measure waist and hip for calculating WHR

The picture above shows the waist measurement just below the last rib and the hip measurement is at the highest point around the buttocks.

Ideally, the waist to hip ratio should be as follows: –

Males: – below 0.9

Females: – below 0.85

Learn how to measure your waist accurately by watching this YouTube video by Dabetes UK.

How does Waist to Hip Ratio help in maintaining our health?

Waist to Hip Ratio determines the body shape and our ultimate looks.

Waist to Hip Ratio (WHR) is a measure that compares the size of your waist to your hip circumference.

It is helpful for assessing health and determining body shape. A low WHR (0.7 or below for women, 0.9 or below for men) indicates an hourglass figure, which is considered to be more aesthetically pleasing and associated with lower health risks.

Higher WHR values (above 0.8 for women, above 1.0 for men) suggest an apple-shaped body, which is associated with increased health risks such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

How and why shapes of our body like apple, pear and hourglass influence our health?

Different body shapes like apple, pear, and hourglass can have varying influences on health.

The shape of our body can influence our health in various ways. For example, individuals with an apple-shaped body, characterized by excess fat around the abdomen, may have a higher risk of developing health issues such as

  • heart disease,
  • diabetes, and
  • metabolic syndrome.
Different waist shapes that contributes to waist hip ratio

On the other hand, individuals with a pear-shaped body, where fat is predominantly stored in the hips, thighs, and buttocks, may have a lower risk of these conditions.

The hourglass shape, with a balanced distribution of fat around the hips and chest, is often considered more aesthetically pleasing, but its direct impact on health is less understood. It’s important to note

By maintaining a healthy waist to hip ratio, especially nearer to hourglass shape, we can be assured of good health.

How does waist size affect our health?

Waist size affects our health by influencing the risk of various conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

How does an increase in waist size cause cardiovascular disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome?

An increase in waist size can cause cardiovascular disease by promoting the accumulation of visceral fat, which is fat stored around the organs in the abdominal area.

Visceral fat is metabolically active and releases various substances that can lead to inflammation, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and unfavorable cholesterol levels. These factors contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease.

Insulin resistance is known to cause type 2 diabetes. A combination of cardiovascular disease and diabetes can cause a condition called Metabolic Syndrome that can have multiple health issues. Have alook at the pictures below.

The pictures below will explain how waist to hip ratio influence the shape of our body [on the left] and the risk involved with increasing waist size [on the right]: –

Image showing waist circumference with related health risks
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Waist To Hip Ratio [WHR]- Why is it important to know 7

Suggested Read- Waist to Hip Ratio


I hope you have understood why we should maintain a good waist to hip ratio. In my next article we will learn in details on how to use WHR to maintain our health.

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