Fitness Articles

Waist-to-Hip Ratio Estimates Health Risk

Are You an Apple or a Pear?

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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

  • so I learned I'm an avocado... when i lose weight and my ratio's change will i become a pear? hmm - 3/5/2016 11:54:32 PM
  • Hmmmm...So I am an avocado; I've never heard of it but it's better than an apple! - 11/29/2015 8:09:45 PM
    Pear. Always a pear
    - 9/9/2015 9:14:09 PM
  • Hmmmm..... Avocado?? First I've heard that one. - 9/4/2015 8:18:41 AM
    I am an apple it says but I look like a box lol with bulge out front and bulge out back lol guess I a squished box. Made me laugh at least. Lots of work ahead. Dr oz recommending me to eat cold potatoes to use up all carbs. I called an "android" type meaning fat pot belly. But at 5' 1" and 159 lbs its time to work hard!! Wish me luck. - 9/3/2015 7:52:53 PM
  • I can't measure myself at the moment, but I've noticed ever since I started birth control I've steadily transitioned from a pear to more like an avocado. I still have a fairly defined waistline, but my belly below the waist is gathering more fat and refuses to let any of it go. It's even more frustrating when I can feel my now strengthening ab muscles just under the layer of flab and I know I may never see them until or unless I get off of bc! - 7/15/2015 2:47:30 PM
  • EMB_RN
    So today I learned that avocado body shape is a thing, and my waist measurement which I had been underestimating by about 3 inches. I guess I can't blame the dryer for shrinking my pants anymore. - 6/23/2015 11:55:56 AM
  • 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

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