Have you ever stepped on a scale and felt discouraged because the number was higher than you wanted it to be?

 

If so, you’re not alone.

 

Millions of people in the UK, including our Personal Training and Physiotherapy clients, focus solely on weight when trying to lose weight, but that’s actually not the best indicator of overall health.

 

In fact, your waist to hip ratio may be a better measure of your health and risk for disease than your weight alone. Keep reading to find out why!

 

Introducing the Waist to Hip Ratio

Although it may not be exciting, the tool gives us a specific measurement which can be replicated simply and can show real change over a long period of time.

 

This easy-to-measure assessment is known as the waist to hip ratio.

 

How to measure your Waist to Hip Ratio

The waist to hip ratio measures the smallest circumference of your waist (about 1cm above the belly button) and the largest circumference of your hips in cm.

 

The waist measurement is then divided by the hip measurement to give you an overall number.

waist to hip ratio

Unlike other measurements, the waist to hip ratio is easy to measure and there aren’t daily fluctuations (assuming consistency in time of day, clothes worn and when the person last ate).

 

This means any changes which have occurred have done so slowly, and therefore are more reliable and valid (in contrast, some measurements like body impedance devices see changes everyday if people drink less/more water for example).

 

What can it tell you about your risk of disease?

Another benefit of the waist to hip ratio is it can calculate what risk a person is for developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even mortality!

waist to hip ratio

The reason for the risk comes down to visceral fat, which is fat around the organs.

 

Those with an ‘apple’ body shape (more weight carried around the midsection) have higher levels of visceral fat compared to those who have a ‘pear’ body shape (more weight carried around their hips and legs).

waist to hip ratio

Pear shaped body types have higher amounts of subcutaneous fat (that’s fat on the outside of your muscles) which comes with fewer health risks than being an apple shape with higher visceral fat (that’s fat around your organs).

 

Seeing the bigger picture

Another benefit of waist to hip ratio is the clarity it can provide through its measurements. Other measurements, such as BMI, do not take into account different body types or tissues of the body (think skinny fat).

 

For example, a person who is 6 foot tall and weighs 80kg would have a healthy BMI of 23.8. However, the person may eat poorly and do little exercise. Although the person’s weight is low, it is predominately made up of fat versus muscle.

 

By measuring waist to hip ratio, we can learn if the person is at higher risk for disease due to the amount of fat stored around their midsection.

 

Valuable information like this can be missed without being comprehensive in our approach. This is why our Health Level Calculator is so robust so that we can receive an accurate assessment of a person’s health.

 

Take-home points

The waist to hip ratio is a simple measurement that provides reliable results.

 

Used in conjunction with weight, BMI and progress photos it can give a clear picture of your weight and which areas you can look to improve.