Fitness Articles

Waist-to-Hip Ratio Estimates Health Risk

Are You an Apple or a Pear?

Ever notice how some people can have big bellies but lean legs, or how women tend to store most of their fat in their thighs, hips, and butt? These are examples of fat distribution, which refers to where your body typically stores the fat, no matter what your weight is. This is important because where you store fat can be a predictor of health risk.

The waist-to-hip (WTH) ratio is a common measure of fat distribution. Your WTH ratio can help you track your weight loss progress, while also serving as a warning about your estimated health risk for problems related to being overweight, such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease. In fact, a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that for some age groups, the waist-to-hip ratio is a better indicator of increased mortality risk than body mass index (BMI), which compares your height to your weight.

Calculating 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). To determine your ratio, enter your measurements into SparkPeople's calculator, OR simply divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement. Compare your result to the appropriate chart below, which is different for males and females.

Females Estimated health risk Estimated body shape
0.80 or below Low Pear
0.81 to 0.85 Moderate Avocado
0.85+ High Apple
Males Estimated health risk Estimated body shape
0.95 or below Low Pear
0.96 to 1.0 Moderate Avocado
1.0+ High Apple

Although all body fat is made of the same “stuff,” where it's stored can make a big difference in both how risky it is to your health, and in how easy it is to lose.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, Nicole loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Nicole was formerly SparkPeople's fitness expert and editor-in-chief, known on the site as "Coach Nicole." Make sure to explore more of her articles and blog posts.

Member Comments

  • I'm an avocado. Mmmmm. Avocados. ;) - 1/27/2015 9:22:28 AM
    Well, I just measured and I believe I am an apple. This is my 1st day on SparkePeople. I am looking forward to some good results down the road..quite a way down the road. I didn't put it on over night. - 11/12/2014 4:21:28 PM
    I was always a pear until I hit 40, now I'm an apple. I don't like it. As I understand it, getting thick through the middle is common as you age, especially after menopause. - 10/30/2014 9:04:40 AM
  • Like BMI this method is a broad brush approach which as an individual I'd suggest can be down right wrong. Across the board it may be more right than wrong but if you take control of your health and read articles like this, you need a more specific method of assessing your healthy (and fat distribution). Get a well taken caliper body fat percentage, GEM test, or use a body fat scale (correctly) to assess your genuine state of health. Where fat is store is most important and how much you store. BMI and waist circumference are not great indicators of this. I have body fat of about 24% which is very healthy for a female but my BMI is overweight and my waist circumference shows at high risk using these methods. Might be my shape, my bones, my ethnicity, not sure what but these method don't work for everyone. - 5/28/2014 10:42:24 PM
  • I am a apple. Iwas always a pear until having children. Lol. Love them. - 1/9/2014 7:28:50 AM
  • I am a woman with a 0.76 waist-to-hip ratio, which according to this article means that I tend to store fat in my hips, thighs, and butt. WRONG! My hips and butt are virtually fat-free. I have a small amount of stubborn fat on the inner thighs, but the vast majority of excess fat is on my lower abs and always has been, even in childhood. Another myth is that people with abdominal fat always have a great deal of visceral fat where mine is obviously subcutaneous. As far as the "woman will bulk up if they lift heavy weights myth," does anyone actually still believe this, lol?! As far as women being able to add as much as 30% more lean muscle by weight training, that would be nice, but even in my super-obsessive weight training years (8 year streak of 5-6 day weight training workouts for 1-2 hrs each time), I never came close to this even though I was progressing in the amount I was lifting. How about an article for those of us who do not fit these stereotypes? - 11/16/2013 11:43:21 AM
  • I only was asked for 2 measurements hips and waist how can you tell my shape when my upper measurement could be bigger . I always thought I was too big up there. bust. - 9/16/2013 11:28:02 AM
  • I was a pear most of my life, and only turned into an avocado in the past 3 or 4 years. I hope the pear returns after I drop these pounds. 8-) - 9/6/2013 12:31:59 AM
  • I'm an apple - which is not surprising after my twin pregnancy. I was very large and delivered 15.5lbs of babies! This measure of health is disappointing to me since I workout consistently with kettlebells, running and ab videos AND I eat less than 1500 calories/day. I noticed in the article that it mentioned "a 2011 study of 220,000 people did not find an increased risk" - which seems to contradict the main point of the article... - 8/11/2013 9:11:41 AM
  • it says apple but that is not me, I carry my weight every where - 8/10/2013 6:00:52 AM
    When I measured myself with my clothes on the answer I got at first was Apple. But then I felt like something wasn't right! I know full well that my belly ain't the only part that has fat. I have them plenty on my butt and legs as well, so I did a re-measurement with all my clothes off for a more exact measurement. the second answer was Avocado. I felt this was more precise to my body, since I know I'm nowhere near Pear. I'm probably an Avocado-Apple shape since I don't have curves that are too noticeable. - 7/19/2013 4:22:04 PM
  • JUNEBUG1956
    Watched a re-run Dr. Oz today about losing for the body types. I'm a pear. I cannot believe the resources Spark has- I searched for the calculator, and here it is! Amazing---now, to whittle down my "pear". Good Sparking everyone! - 6/17/2013 8:13:31 PM
  • I finally weighed and measured myself to face facts. I've always considered myself to be just a "bit" on the pudgy side - but now I've really allowed the pounds pile up. I'm an apple -ugh... But I feel motivated to do something now. This is my second week using Spark, and thank goodness I found this site! - 5/15/2013 12:12:15 PM
    an apple I am - 4/19/2013 11:44:42 PM
  • I'm glad to find that I'm a pear now. I'm pretty sure I was an Avocado in January... - 3/11/2013 9:21:04 PM

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