Waist-to-Height Ratio Calculator

Enter the circumference of your waist and your height to calculate your waist-to-height ratio.

How to Calculate Waist-to-Height Ratio

The waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) is a simple and efficient measurement of body fat in individuals over the age of 6.[1]

WHtR identifies a specific type of body fat called central or abdominal adiposity. This term refers to the fatty tissue that is located specifically around the midsection.

Fat mass that is centralized within the torso region is associated with a higher risk of certain health conditions when compared to fatty tissue that is around the lower body, such as in the hips and thighs. This makes WHtR a useful measurement when assessing an individual’s health status, in addition to helping identify early health risks.[2]

Waist-to-Height Ratio Formula

To calculate your waist-to-height ratio, you need to divide your waist circumference by your height. Since this is a ratio, it does not matter if you use inches or cm.

waist-to-height ratio = waist circumference / height

Learn more about calculating ratios.

How to Measure Your Waist and Height

Waist

According to the World Health Organization, the waist measurement should be taken at the midpoint between the last rib you are able to feel and your iliac crest, or the top of your hip bone.[3] You can also take this measurement near the belly button, at the smallest point of the waist.[3]

Note that in some individuals, the belly button is not the smallest circumference of the waist; in that case, visually assess the most narrow area of the torso for proper measurements.

The measuring tape should be stretch-resistant and pulled tightly but not constricting.[3] It is best to take this measurement over bare skin or with light undergarments while the individual is standing, ensuring the tape measure is parallel to the floor for accuracy.[1][3]

Height

If you don’t already know your height, it is best if you have someone else measure it for you. Stand barefoot on a firm, non-carpeted surface with your head, back, and heels up against a wall.[4]

Have the other person lay a ruler flat on your head, parallel to the floor.[4] Make a mark on the wall with a pencil and measure the distance from the floor to the mark.[4]

How to Interpret Your WHtR

The optimal waist-to-height ratio is 0.5 or less.[1][2] This ratio indicates that from a health perspective, an ideal weight size should not exceed half of the height measurement. This is typically the universal cut-off for all individuals over the age of 6 in terms of obesity stemming from increased fat mass in the abdominal region.[1]

The greater your WHtR, the higher your degree of central adiposity; this then can place you at greater risk for issues like metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.[5]

It is important to remember that WHtR is just one of many factors that provide insight into an individual’s overall health status. In order to have a thorough assessment of your health, additional information should be gathered.

Waist-to-Height Ratio vs. BMI

BMI and WHtR are both anthropometric measurements. However, there are significant differences between the two.

BMI (body mass index) tends to be the most commonly used measurement to assess an individual’s weight classification and is calculated based on somebody’s height and weight (you can calculate your BMI here). Unfortunately, BMI does not take into consideration how much of your overall mass is fat versus muscle; while it can be useful, it has its drawbacks. Subsequently, the calculation for BMI might not be considered by some to be as simple and easy to use as the WHtR equation when identifying possible health problems.[2]

Additionally, WHtR measures the distribution of body fat, whereas BMI does not. This differentiation is important because, as previously mentioned, weight that is distributed around the midsection poses more health risks than weight in the lower body, which is a measurement that is not accounted for when utilizing BMI.[1]

Therefore, studies have indicated that WHtR can be considered the top standard for identifying cardiovascular risk factors, as opposed to BMI alone.[1][2][3]

There has also been research indicating that some individuals may fall within a “healthy” BMI range but have a WHtR that indicates they are, in fact, at risk for certain health conditions (in essence, a WHtR greater than or equal to 0.5). In these situations, BMI alone could have missed early warning signs of potential health problems.[2]

Hence, research supports WHtR over BMI as both a simple and more predictive indicator of the early health risks associated with central adiposity.[2]

Waist-to-Height Ratio vs. Waist-to-Hip Ratio

Waist-to-height ratio and waist-to-hip ratio are both measurements of body fat distribution. Both ratios use waist circumference as a component of the calculation and are more specific than BMI in determining where overall body mass may be distributed within the body.

However, the main difference between the two is that one compares waist circumference against height, and the other compares weight circumference against hip circumference.

This difference is notable in that individuals who are shorter tend to have higher amounts of fat mass than people who are taller, even if they both have the same body mass index.[6]

For example, if the measurement of waist circumference between two individuals is the same, it doesn’t mean their fat mass is also identical, especially if they aren’t the same height as one another.

Height has also been inversely associated with cardiovascular disease risk, meaning taller people tend to be at a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.[6]

Therefore, height is an important factor when determining one’s health risks.

You can use our calculator to find your waist-to-hip ratio.

References

  1. Yoo, E. G., Waist-to-height ratio as a screening tool for obesity and cardiometabolic risk, Korean Journal of Pediatrics, 2016, 59(11), 425. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27895689/
  2. Ashwell, M., & Gibson, S., Waist-to-height ratio as an indicator of 'early health risk': simpler and more predictive than using a 'matrix' based on BMI and waist circumference, BMJ Open, 2016, 6(3), e010159. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010159
  3. World Health Organization, Waist Circumference and Waist-Hip Ratio, Report of a
    WHO Expert Consultation
    , 8–11 December 2008, http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/44583/9789241501491_eng.pdf
  4. Healthline, How to Measure Your Height Accurately at Home, 2019, November 8, https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-measure-height
  5. Mayo Clinic, Metabolic syndrome, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/metabolic-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20351916
  6. Moosaie, F., Fatemi Abhari, S. M., Deravi, N., Karimi Behnagh, A., Esteghamati, S., Dehghani Firouzabadi, F., Rabizadeh, S., Nakhjavani, M., & Esteghamati, A., Waist-To-Height Ratio Is a More Accurate Tool for Predicting Hypertension Than Waist-To-Hip Circumference and BMI in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Prospective Study, Frontiers in Public Health, 2021, 9, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2021.726288