Your health is affected not only by how much body fat you have, but also by where most of the fat is located on your body. Waist to hip ratio (WHR) analyzes the relationship between your waist and hip measurements to help you understand your body-type and current health status. Most people store their body fat in two distinct ways, often called “apple” and “pear” shapes.
These terms refer to where you carry excess body fat ? around your middle (apple) or around your hips and buttocks (pear). Carrying excess body fat around your middle increases health risks significantly more than carrying fat around your hips, thighs and other areas of your body.
To determine if you have a healthy WHR, first use a measuring tape to obtain the circumference of your waist, just above your belly button. Then measure the circumference of your hips at the widest part of your buttocks.
To determine your WHR, simply divide your waist circumference from your hip circumference, in either inches or centimeters. If you are male and have a WHR greater than 1.0 ? or a female with a WHR greater than 0.85 ? you are considered to have an “apple shape”, meaning that you have more body fat located in your abdominal area. If your WHR is less than 1.0 (male) or 0.85 (female), you either have a healthy body fat percentage or considered to have a “pear shape”, which means that you tend to have more body fat located in peripheral areas of your body, like your hips and/or buttocks. Apple-shaped (rather than pear-shaped) body-types are at increased risk for the health problems associated with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.
If your WHR does indicate an apple-shape, don’t see this as a negative result. Instead treat it as a call-to-action to improve your daily habits. There is nothing you can do to change your body-type ? that’s something you inherited ? but you can take steps to improve your health and reduce your risk for the above-mentioned diseases. Even if you have a genetic predisposition to being apple-shaped, the way you live is what ultimately determines whether or not you gain excess fat. Genes clearly play a role, but they certainly don’t determine what you’re going to have for dinner or how often you exercise.
As long as you don’t have too much excess body fat, being an apple versus a pear doesn’t put you at special risk ? it’s just something to keep in mind. After all, the more you understand your body-type, the easier it will be to create and implement a routine that’s right for you; you’re also more likely to feel good about the progress you’re making towards a healthy lifestyle. And even those with a pear-shape should try to keep their body fat within a healthy range, to help avoid the various problems associated with obesity.