Calculating your waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a quick and easy way to monitor how much abdominal fat you carry, which is an important component of your health. To do it, stand up straight, legs close together, with weight evenly distributed across your feet; don’t suck in your belly. After breathing out, measure the smallest part of your waist, usually just above the belly button, with a tape measure. Then measure the widest distance around your buttocks to get your hip number. The tape should be held snugly around the body but not be constricting, and it should be parallel to the floor.
To get your WHR, divide the waist circumference number by the hip circumference. Though values vary, a healthy WHR (low risk) is generally defined as 0.95 or lower for men, and 0.80 or lower for women. A WHR of 1.0 or higher in men and 0.85 or higher in women means you have excess abdominal fat and are at increased risk for heart disease and other conditions.
Online calculators are available that provide your WHR after you plug in your measurements, along with what risk category you fall under. Two examples are goodcalculators.com and thecalculatorsite.com.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.