According to the American Dietetic Association, excess fat in your abdominal region poses a greater health risk than excess fat in the hips and thighs, and is associated with a higher risk of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, early onset of heart disease, and certain types of cancers. That’s why your Waist-to-Hip Ratio can provide more valuable imformation than just weighing yourself.
How to calculate Your Waist-to-Hip Ratio
Use a measuring tape to measure your waist (at the smallest circumference of your natural waist, usually just above the belly button) and the circumference of your hips (at the widest part of your buttocks).
Pear Shape (Low Health Risk):
If you’re a pear shape, you tend to carry most of your weight in your hips, thighs and buttocks. Storing fat in your lower half is actually a healthier site for fat accumulation. Research shows that storing fat here may actually protect you against cardiovascular disease. In one study of 1,356 women, ages 60-85, Danish researchers found that those with excessive fat in the arms, legs, hips and buttocks had less atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) than those who stored most fat in their abdominal area and other central parts of the body.
Apple Shape (High Health Risk):
If you tend to carry weight in your abdominal area and upper torso, you’re an apple shape. People who are apple-shaped and carry more weight around their waists (commonly referred to as a “pot belly”) are at a greater risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes than pear-shaped people. However, a 2011 study of 220,000 people published in The Lancet did not find an increased risk. Since storing excessive fat in the abdominal region is correlated with an increased disease risk, this test is one way to measure your risk for lifestyle and weight-related diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and more.
Avocado Shape (Moderate Health Risk):
The less common "avocado" shape is somewhere between an apple and a pear, with health risks higher than a pear-shaped person, but somewhat lower than a true apple-shaped person.