It is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips. The waist-hip ratio or waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is calculated as waist measurement (W) divided by hip measurement (H).

WHR= Circumference at waist/circumference at hip.  For example, a person with a 32″ or 82 cm waist circumference and 36″ 92 cm hip circumference has a waist-hip ratio of about 0.89 i.e. 32/36″ or  82/92 cm =0.89

How to measure it?

According to the World Health Organisation(WHO) protocol, certain criteria are defined to allow uniformity in measurement. They are as follows:

Body Position:

The individual should stand with feet close together, arms at the side and body weight evenly distributed, and should wear little clothing. The subject should be relaxed, and the measurements should be taken at the end of a normal respiration.

Waist circumference:

It should be measured at the midpoint between the lower margin of the last palpable ribs and the top of the iliac crest(usually at the belly button level) using a stretch‐resistant tape that provides a constant 100 g tension.

 Hip circumference:

It should be measured around the widest portion of the buttocks, with the tape parallel to the floor.

For both, each measurement should be repeated twice; if the measurements are within 1 cm of one another, the average should be calculated. If the difference between the two measurements exceeds 1 cm, the two measurements should be repeated.

Importance of WHR

According to research WHR has been found to be a more efficient predictor of mortality in older people  and cardiovascular disease than waist circumference and body-mass index. Recent studies suggest High WHR is associated with high chances of following health ailments:


Well,Body Mass Index or BMI is a widely used measure of obesity. It is a ratio of a person’s weight in kilos to the square of their height in metres. However, it does not take into account the distribution of fat around the body. Abdominal fat affects organs like the heart, liver and kidneys more adversely than fat around the hips and bottom, in terms of cardio-metabolic risk.


The WHO advise that a healthy WHR is:

*0.85 or less for women

 *0.9 or less for men

The following chart shows how the WHO classify the risk of being affected by weight related health conditions according to WHR:

How to manage high WHR?

A proper assessment leads to knowing the cause of obesity. Losing weight is simply not eating less, exercising more. It is a scientifically planned rehabilitation where body loses weight without losing on important nutrients that cause severe deficiencies. Crash diets do not really help in long term and a balance has to be maintained between good and bad body fats and nutrients. Exercising correctly will not only reduce the obesity but also condition the heart and circulation which is vital for good health.

Remember it’s your health that will matter eventually so only take help of the experts. Note the take home message- keep your waist circumference to less than half your height and plan achieving it with professionals.