Waist to Height Ratio: What is it?

For years there have been indicators to show which people were more at risk for cardiovascular disease and obesity. Whether they be visual methods such as the shape of a person, apple or pear, apple being more of a risk for cardiovascular problems than the pear shape.  Or looking at the numbers such as the waist to height ratio, both are valuable and reliable to weighing the risks for cardiovascular risk and/or mortality.

Now there is more light being brought to one particular set of numbers, the Waist to Height Ratio (WHtR).

It is being shown by research from the National Heart and Blood Institute that having excess abdominal is a key factor for developing disease.

What is Waist to Height Ratio (WHtR)?waist to height ratio

The waist to height ratio is basically the circumference or the measurement around your waist compared to your normal height. Adults and children as early as 5 years old can be measured.

Your waist is at the smallest, most narrow part of your torso, a half an inch to an inch above your belly button. If you do not have a great amount of fat concentration in this area you can see a natural indentation to where the waist goes in at.

If you do not have a natural indentation or your abdominal fat is higher in this area, take a piece of string and wrap it around your torso. Bend from side to side and until the string falls into the area where your indentation is. This will be where your waist is.

For your height, it would be the regular feet and inches measurement taken as you stand up tall and erect.

The waist to height ratio is calculated by diving the waist size value by the height.

If your waist measurement is LESS than half your height then you are NOT at risk for an obesity-related disease. There are many websites that will calculate the percentage such as health-calc.com.

Waist to height ratio percentage for Males: waist to height ratio

  • A ratio less than 43%: underweight
  • A ratio 43% to 52%: healthy weight
  • A ratio 53% to 62%: overweight
  • A ratio over 63%: obese


Waist to height ratio percentage for Females:

  • A ratio less than 42%: underweight
  • A ratio 42% to 48%: healthy weight
  • A ratio 49% to 57%: overweight
  • A ratio over 58%: obese

 Why measure the waist?

Measuring someone’s waist is important because it accounts for levels of central fat which accumulates around the organs and is particularly closely linked to conditions like stroke and heart disease.

Dr Margaret Ashwell stated, “If you are measuring waist-to-height ratio you are getting a much earlier prection that something is going wrong, and then you can do something about it.

The risks of a high waist to height ratio?

With not being in the idea range for your waist to height ratio comes a lot of health risks. Having a healthy waist to height range will not only prevent the following diseases from happening but it will also add years to your life as research has found.

Research showed that for example, people with the highest waist-to-height ratio, whose waistlines measured 80% of there height, lived 17 years fewer than average. This shows the impact of the ratio value on your life expectancy. On top of years being taken away from your life you can also develop diseases, here are a few.

Stroke. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and food. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. Early action is needed to minimize brain damage and potential complications including death.

Heart Disease is a broad term that is used to describe a variety of diseases that affect your heart.  Some of the diseases that are in this category are coronary artery disease, heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias), heart infections, and heart defects that you are born with (congenital heart defects) and diseases of the blood vessels (vascular disease and vasculitis, aneurysm, and varicose veins.

Heart disease in used interchangeably with “cardiovascular disease” This refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain, or stroke. These all can be prevented and treated with proper lifestyle choices.

Diabetes Mellitus. Is a group of metabolic diseases in which the person has high blood glucose (blood sugar), either because insulin production is inadequate, or because the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin, or both.

Patients with high blood sugar will experience the three P’s. Polyuria (frequent urination), Polydipsia (increased thirst) and Polyphage (increased hunger).

There are three types of diabetes. Type 1, 2 and gestational. waist to height ratio

  1. Type 1 Diabetes is when the body does not produce insulin. It is sometimes called Juvenile diabetes or early onset diabetes. Type 1 is not as common as type 2. Patients with this need to take insulin injections for the rest of their life. They must constantly do blood tests to monitor glucose levels and follow a special diet.
  2. Type 2 Diabetes is when the body does not produce enough insulin for proper function, or the cells in the body do not react to insulin, also called insulin resistance. This is the most common form of diabetes. Some people are able to control their type 2 diabetes by losing weight, maintaining a healthy diet and exercising. However this is a progressive disease – it gets gradually worse with time – and the patient will end up having to take insulin in tablet form.
  3. Gestational Diabetes occurs during pregnancy. Some women may have really high levels of glucose in their blood, and their bodies are unable to produce enough insulin to transport all of the glucose into their cells, resulting in progressively rising levels of glucose. The majority of this type can be controlled with exercise and diet. Undiagnosed or uncontrolled gestational diabetes can raise the risk of complications during childbirth.


With all of the life threatening complications of having a high waist to height ratio, one of your health goals if you do have a high ratio is to begin lowering that number. Eating healthier and doing target exercises for your abdominal area is very important.






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