According to the WHO’s data gathering protocol, the waist circumference should be measured at the midpoint between the last palpable rib and the top of the iliac crest, using a stretch‐resistant tape measure.
Practically, the measurements are usually taken at the smallest circumference of the natural waist, usually just above the belly button.
The waist-height ratio is calculated as waist measurement divided by height measurement,
W ÷ H, in centimeters. For example, a person with a 28 in (71 cm) waist and 5 ft 6 in (170 cm) height has a waist–height ratio of
How do I calculate waist-to-height ratio?
To calculate your waist-to-height ratio:
The general guidance is that the waist-to-height ratio between 0.4 and 0.49 is considered healthy.
It may suggest that you’re underweight if it’s below 0.4. On the other hand, values exceeding 0.5 indicate a greater probability of health issues related to excess body weight.
The waist-to-height ratio is used to identify the risk of obesity-related diseases as well as body fat distribution. It’s often used as an alternative for BMI.
As a rule of thumb, it should be less than half of your height. For example, if you’re 170 cm (5 ft 6 in) tall, a healthy waist circumference is roughly between 68 cm (26.8 in) and 83.3 cm (32.8 in).
The waist-to-height ratio is a measure of the distribution of body fat. The higher someone’s waist-height ratio is, the higher their risk of obesity-related cardiovascular diseases, as it is a rough estimate of obesity. To explore information about body fat further, visit body fat calculator.
Studies have found that a person’s waist-height ratio is a good indicator of their risk of heart attack, stroke, or death, while its link to diabetes hasn’t been proved yet. Other indicators of abdominal obesity are body mass index (BMI) and waist-hip ratio. See our BMI calculator and this waist to hip ratio calculator for more information.
Małgorzata Koperska, MD