How to Calculate Your Waist to Hip Ratio

Two Parts:Measuring yourselfUnderstanding Your Waist to Hip Ratio

Your waist to hip ratio is a measure of how fat is distributed around your body. Those with a higher percentage around the waist are sometimes considered "apple-shaped," while those with bigger hips are often noted as "pear-shaped." Women with a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.8 or less and men with a ratio of 0.9 or less are considered "safe." A WHR of 1.0 or higher, for either gender, is considered "at risk" for overweight-associated health problems.

Part 1
Measuring yourself

  1. 1
    Get a tape measure. The only way to accurately measure around your body is with a flexible, wrap-able tape measure.
    • For professional results, which are not necessary for home testing, the World Health Organization suggests stretch-resistant tape with 100g of tension.[1]
  2. 2
    Stand up straight with your body relaxed and feet close together. Don't slouch or lean, as this can throw off the measurement. You also don't want to hold your breath or suck in your stomach, as this will give an inaccurate reading.[2]
    • You should be wearing very little or no clothing. Get your measurements as close to the skin as possible.
  3. 3
    Make both measurements just as you finish exhaling. This is going to get the most accurate measurement for you. Try to get the measurement in the space between finishing to exhale and beginning another inhalation.[3]
  4. Image titled Calculate Your Waist to Hip Ratio Step 1
    Wrap a tape measure around the skinniest part of your waist. More often than not, this is just above your belly button, up above the knobs of your hip bones. Keep the tape flat against your belly, not kinked or twisted. You don't want to squeeze or pull, just get a snug measurement.
    • Write this measurement down as "Waist Circumference." For an example, say this is 26"
    • It does not matter if you use inches or centimeters, so long as you use the same measurement for your hips, too.[4]
  5. Image titled Calculate Your Waist to Hip Ratio Step 2
    Use the tape measure around the widest part of your hips. This is frequently the widest part of your butt, just below where your thighs hinge. Wrap your tape measure, again, trying not to kick, twist, or pull tightly on it.
    • Write this measurement down as "Hip Circumference." For an example, say this is 32"
    • If you measured in inches for the waist, use inches again here. If centimeters before, use centimeters now, etc.[5]
  6. 6
    Take both measurements a second time to account for any changes from breathing. This is the clinical standard, but if you're just curious for a rough figure you can skip this step. Doctors do this to ensure they get the most accurate reading possible.
  7. Image titled Calculate Your Waist to Hip Ratio Step 3
    Divide your waist circumference by your hip circumference. The result is your waist-to-hip ratio or WHR. Simply pull up a calculator and divide the waist measurement by the hip measurement:
    • For an example, assume your waist circumference is 26" and your hip circumference is 32"
    • WHR = .8125

Part 2
Understanding Your Waist to Hip Ratio

  1. 1
    Aim for a WHR lower than .90 if you are a man. A healthy male generally has slightly bigger hips than waist, but there should not be a huge difference. This is why the ratio for a healthy male is close to 1. Note, however, that small changes make a big deal for men -- any ratio above .95 poses a health risk. Staying at .90 or lower is ideal.[6]
  2. 2
    Keep your WHR lower than .80 if you're a woman. Women naturally have bigger hips for childbearing, meaning a healthy ratio for women is much lower than for men. This is why their ratio is generally lower -- they are dividing by a bigger hip circumference in general. Anything above .85 is a reason to reexamine diet and exercise habits.[7]
  3. 3
    Know that a WHR above 1.0 for men and above .85 for women indicates high health risks. Your waist to hip ratio is a proven indicator of future cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and gall bladder disease.[8]
  4. 4
    Learn the risk factors you need to fight in order to return to a positive WHR. Lowering your waist to hip ratio to a healthy level is largely a factor of diet and exercise. Aiming to eat more fruits and vegetables, lean meats (like chicken, turkey, and fish), and cut back on total food consumption is the best way to fight an unhealthy WHR. You should also consider:
    • Quitting smoking
    • Walking, running, or biking 30 minutes a day.
    • Talking to your doctor about cholesterol or blood pressure medication
    • Cutting back on alcohol, soda, and other "empty" calories.[9]
  5. 5
    Know that WHR is only one of several tests to determine a healthy weight. While waist to hip ratio is an important indicator of health, it is not the only one you should pay attention to. Use another test, such as your Body Mass Index (BMI), to help put this number in context.
    • BMI is a measure of your total body fat, meaning how much of your body is comprised of fat. People with naturally atypical body shapes (very tall or short, broad or skinny, etc.) tend to learn more from BMI than from WHR.
    • While not a measure of obesity, you should have blood pressure tests if you're worried about the effects of a poor diet or lack of physical activity.


  • If you're actively trying to lose weight, revisit your WHR every 1 to 6 months. Write the measurement down every time you take it as a means of tracking your progress over time. As you lose weight your waist-to-hip ratio will go down, too.
  • If you have trouble positioning the measuring tape properly or reading the measurements, ask a friend to help.


  • Waist to hip ratio is not an all-conclusive test. While it is a good measurement to take, it alone can not tell you if you are healthy or not. It is just a small part of a doctor's examination.

Things You'll Need

  • Flexible measuring tape
  • Pen or pencil
  • Notebook
  • Calculator

Article Info

Categories: Looking Good & Makeovers