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Waist-to-Height Ratio’s (WHtR) Connection to Disease

Waist-to-Height Ratio’s (WHtR) Connection to Disease

A 2011 study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology Metabolism said the waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) was the strongest predictor of cardiovascular disease and mortality.

WHtR is calculated by dividing waist size by height. It takes gender into account. WHtR is thought to give a more accurate assessment of health, since the most dangerous place to carry weight is in the abdomen.

JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) Cardiology in July of 2019 said, “normal-weight central obesity in women (postmenopausal) was associated with excess risk of mortality, similar to that of women with BMI-defined obesity with central obesity.”

BMI (body mass index) – your weight in kilograms divided by your height in meters squared – is the standard measure used to define obesity in clinical and public health guidelines.” However, BMI has an inherent limitation in that it does not distinguish body shape or body fat distribution.

Normal weight at 18.5 to 24.9, overweight at 25 to 29.9, obese 30 or greater, while central obesity in females was defined as having a waist circumference (WC) equal to or greater than 88 centimeters (35 inches).

The JAMA study concluded that, “normal-weight, central obesity was associated with a higher risk of all-cause, cardiovascular disease, and cancer mortality compared with normal-weight without central obesity”

Fat in the abdomen, which is associated with a larger waist, is metabolically active and produces various hormones that can cause harmful effects, such as diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and altered lipid (blood fat) levels.

Many athletes, both male and female, who often have a higher percentage of muscle and a lower percentage of body fat, have relatively high BMI’s but their WHtRs are within a healthy range. This fact also holds true for women who have a “pear” rather than an “apple” shape.

For instance, a male with a 32-inch waist, who is 5’10” (70 inches) would divide 32 by 70, to get a WHtR of 45.7 percent.

Ratio less than 35: Abnormally Slim to Underweight
Ratio 35 to 42: Extremely Slim
Ratio 42 to 46: Healthy
Ratio 46 to 49: Healthy
Ratio 49 to 54: Overweight
Ratio 54 to 58: Seriously Overweight
Ratio over 58: Highly Obese

Ratio less than 35: Abnormally Slim to Underweight
Ratio 35 to 43: Extremely slim
Ratio 43 to 46: Healthy
Ratio 46 to 53: Healthy, Normal Weight
Ratio 53 to 58: Overweight
Ratio 58 to 63: Extremely Overweight/Obese
Ratio over 63: Highly Obese

Interested in Reading More? Check Out Should You Eat Before Endurance Exercise?

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