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How waist-to-height ratio can help detect health risks

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

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.

Full Screen #1: 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

Remember, you should always consult your physician before beginning any exercise, diet, or nutritional supplementation program.

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