Medicine:Waist-to-height ratio

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A person's waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), also called waist-to-stature ratio (WSR), is defined as their waist circumference divided by their height, both measured in the same units. The WHtR is a measure of the distribution of body fat. Higher values of WHtR indicate higher risk of obesity-related cardiovascular diseases; it is correlated with abdominal obesity.[1]

A 2010 study that followed 11,000 subjects for up to eight years concluded that WHtR is a much better measure of the risk of heart attack, stroke or death than the more widely used body mass index.[2] However, a 2011 study that followed 60,000 participants for up to 13 years found that waist–hip ratio (when adjusted for BMI) was a better predictor of ischemic heart disease mortality than WHtR.[3]

Conversely, WHtR was not a predictor for new-onset diabetes melitus in at least one study.[4]

A WHtR of over 0.5 is critical and signifies an increased risk; a 2010 systematic review of published studies concluded that "WHtR may be advantageous because it avoids the need for age-, sex- and ethnic-specific boundary values".[5] For people under 40 the critical value is 0.5, for people aged 40–50 the critical value is between 0.5 and 0.6, and for people over 50 the critical values start at 0.6.[6]

Subjects Waist-to-height ratio
Marilyn Monroe 0.3359
Female college swimmer 0.4240
Male college swimmer 0.4280
Bodybuilder 0.4580
Female at increased risk 0.4920
General healthy cutoff 0.5000
Risk equivalent to BMI of 25 0.5100
Males at increased risk 0.5360
Risk equivalent to BMI of 30 0.5700
Obese 0.5770
Substantial risk increase 0.5820

As a comparative, the following table categorises the boundaries of persons in terms of health: [7][8]

Children (up to 15) Men Women Categorisation Examples
<=0.34 <=0.34 <=0.34 Extremely Slim Marilyn Monroe (0.3359)
0.35 to 0.45 0.35 to 0.42 0.35 to 0.41 Slim
0.46 to 0.51 0.43 to 0.52 0.42 to 0.48 Healthy Female College Swimmer (0.4240)
Male College Swimmer (0.4280)
Body Builder (0.4580)
0.52 to 0.63 0.53 to 0.57 0.49 to 0.53 Overweight Female at increased risk (0.4920)
Male at increased risk (0.5360)
0.58 to 0.62 0.54 to 0.57 Very Overweight
0.64 => 0.63 => 0.58 => Obese

See also

  • Body fat percentage
  • Body water
  • Allometric law
  • Ponderal index


  1. CM Lee, Huxley RR, Wildman RP, Woodward M (July 2008). "Indices of abdominal obesity are better discriminators of cardiovascular risk factors than BMI: a meta-analysis'". Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 61 (7): 646–653. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2007.08.012. PMID 18359190. 
  2. Schneider (2010). "The predictive value of different measures of obesity for incident cardiovascular events and mortality.". The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 95 (4): 1777–1785. doi:10.1210/jc.2009-1584. PMID 20130075. 
  3. Mørkedal, Bjørn; Romundstad, Pål R; Vatten, Lars J. (2011). "Informativeness of indices of blood pressure, obesity and serum lipids in relation to ischaemic heart disease mortality: the HUNT-II study". European Journal of Epidemiology 26 (6): 457–461. doi:10.1007/s10654-011-9572-7. ISSN 0393-2990. PMID 21461943. 
  4. Ren-Jieh Kuo (2011). "Inability of waist-to-height ratio to predict new onset diabetes mellitus among older adults in Taiwan: A five-year observational cohort study". Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics 53 (1): e1-e4. doi:10.1016/j.archger.2010.05.005. 
  5. "A systematic review of waist-to-height ratio as a screening tool for the prediction of cardiovascular disease and diabetes: 0·5 could be a suitable global boundary value.". Nutrition research reviews 23 (02): 247–69. 2010. doi:10.1017/S0954422410000144. 
  6. "Waist-Height Ratio Better Than BMI for Gauging Mortality". 18 Jun 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2016. 
  7. Ashwell, M., Gunn, P. & Gibson, S., 2012. Waist-to-height ratio is a better screening tool than waist circumference and BMI for adult cardiometabolic risk factors: systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 13, pp.275–286. Available at: [Accessed May 7, 2019].
  8. Schneider, H.J. et al., 2010. The predictive value of different measures of obesity for incident cardiovascular events and mortality. The Journal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism, 95(4), pp.1777–85. Available at: [Accessed March 30, 2014].

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