The waist to hip ratio is something that gets a lot of attention from both men and women. We couldn’t justify the name Waist, Hips, and Thighs without talking about the waist to hip ratio. This ratio is one of the more important measurements for health and also one that get looks at for other various reasons, one being sex appeal.

So let’s first get into what this ratio is.

What is the Waist-to-Hip Ratio?

The waist to hip ratio(WHR) is just one of several measurements that doctors can use to see if you are carrying excess weight that could be putting your health at risk. This ratio compares your waist measurement to your hip measurement hence the name. Unlike the body mass index (BMI) which calculates the ratio of your weight to your height.

In many cases the higher the ratios can mean you have more fat around your midsection or waist area. Basically this ratio determines how much fat you are storing on your waist, hips, and butt regions. High ratios could mean you are more susceptible to heart disease or diabetes.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a moderate WHR for women is 0.85 or less. In both men and women, a waist to hip ratio of 1.0 or higher increases the risk of heart diseases that are linked to being overweight.

Why Your Waist Size Matters a LOT

If you are carrying too much weight around your waist it may lead to other health problems. Your health is greatly affected by where your body stores fat. Abdominal obesity is having too much fat around your waist and hips area. The fat in this area is called visceral fat because this surrounds your liver and other organs.

Too much visceral fat will send hormones, fatty acids, and other chemicals throughout your body causing inflammation. Having a lot of visceral fat can lead to high cholesterol, blood pressure and other issues.

While this can affect both men and women, men are actually more likely to have too much fat around the belly while women are more likely to carry fat around the hips and thighs.

How to Measure Your Waist to Hip Ratio

To measure your WHR you want to wrap a tape measure around your waist at the smallest point. This for most women will be around your belly button. Record this number down as your waist circumference.

Next you want to measure your hips. Now you take the tape measure and measure your hips at the widest part. Yes ladies the widest part. Don’t try to find the smallest section to measure. Record this number down as your hip circumference.

Now to get your waist to hip ratio you need to divide your waist size by your hip size. It’s that simple.

Remember, we mentioned above that the WHO stated that for women a moderate ratio is 0.85 of less. A ratio of 1.0 or higher for both men and women means a higher chance of health issues.

Easy to Read Waist-to-Hip Ratio Chart

Advantages and Disadvantages of Measuring WHR

When it comes to you measuring your waist to hip ratio this way you will find some benefits are easy to see. It’s easy and inexpensive to measure your ratio at home using a tape measure. For those who get it right it is a very accurate way to see how your body is storing fat and keep you aware of the risk of heart disease and diabetes.

It might not be a perfect way to measure your ratio but it definitely allows you notice of what’s going on with your body and honestly that is worth it.

Some of the disadvantages of measuring your ratio this way is that it is easy to make mistakes. You can easily measure the wrong part of your waist or hips and get a number that is completely off. It could be misleading if you get the wrong measurements and studies show women who are shorter than 5 feet and those who have a BMI of 35 or higher will have a hard time getting accurate measurements.

Perfect Waist to Hip Ratio

There is no perfect ratio for your waist and hips. Though many will claim that they know what it is and how to get it. There have been studies and research that suggests that a cinched in or small waist is a very attractive female trait.

For many studies a waist size of under 26 ½ inches is the golden standard. That combined with nice hips and thighs is said to drive men and women wild. A waist measurement of 70% of your hip circumference usually gives you that perfect hourglass waist and hips.

It has even been studied that more and more men and women say that the attractiveness of a woman increases the more her waist size dropped as long as the hip size did not decrease. In other words, a smaller waist and bigger hips was a winner.

WHR in Science

When it comes to the studies of high and low waist to hip size in females it’s considered a unique feature. For one a narrow waist has been seen as a visual cue of the absence of pregnancy and thought to be why men sought after women. Secondly, when fat is stored around a woman’s hips instead of the waist it signals the stability of a pregnant and lactating woman.
Studies also suggest that high waist to hip ratios in women are associated with mortality and medical conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease,  lung impairment, menstrual irregularity and subfertility. When given the opportunity in studies more men choose women with low to average WHR than above average ratios.

Using Waist and Hip Ratio to Improve Health

If you are a woman who tends to have a ratio on the higher end you may need to make some adjustments that can help prevent certain issues. Exercising and increased activity are two of the best ways to improve this ratio. Having too much fat on your waist or being overweight can come from consuming too many calories. Either a change in eating and/or exercising are big things to work on and be consistent with.

Here are a few tips on eating and exercising:

  • Eat at least 5 portions of fruits and vegetables every day
  • Eat whole-grain and high-fiber foods 
  • Add some dairy or dairy alternatives
  • Use unsaturated oils and spreads
  • Drink more water (6 to 8 glasses a day)
  • Beans, fish, meat, eggs, or other proteins
  • Stop with the sugary drinks 
  • Fewer foods high in fat, salt, and sugar
  • Talk to your doctor or a dietitian to build a meal plan to help you lose weight safely. 
  • Start walking 30-45 minutes daily
  • Dance more
  • Go ride a bike
  • Cut your own lawn instead of paying

The Bottom Line

Your waist to hip ratio is a quick and easy way to check how much fat you are carrying around in your midsection. Some find it helps stay on top of their looks while others use it for health reasons. You can use the WHR as well as BMI to evaluate your weight and health.