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Fitness Articles  ›  Special Concerns

Waist-to-Hip Ratio Estimates Health Risk

Are You an Apple or a Pear?

-- By Jen Mueller & Nicole Nichols, Fitness Experts
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Pear Shape (Low Health Risk)
If you’re a pear shape, you tend to carry most of your weight in your hips, thighs and buttocks. Storing fat in your lower half is actually a healthier site for fat accumulation. Research shows that storing fat here may actually protect you against cardiovascular disease. In one study of 1,356 women, ages 60-85, Danish researchers found that those with excessive fat in the arms, legs, hips and buttocks had less atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) than those who stored most fat in their abdominal area and other central parts of the body.

Apple Shape (High Health Risk)
If you tend to carry weight in your abdominal area and upper torso, you’re an apple shape. People who are apple-shaped and tend to carry more weight around their waists (commonly referred to as a “pot belly”) are at a greater risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes than pear-shaped people. However, a 2011 study of 220,000 people published in The Lancet did not find an increased risk.

Avocado Shape (Moderate Health Risk)
You may hear about apples and pears all the time, but what about people who don't fit into either category? The less common "avocado" shape is somewhere between an apple and a pear, with health risks higher than a pear-shaped person, but somewhat lower than a true apple-shaped person.
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About The Author

Nicole Nichols Nicole Nichols
Nicole was named "America's Top Personal Trainer to Watch" in 2011. A certified personal trainer and fitness instructor with a bachelor's degree in health education, she loves living a healthy and fit lifestyle and helping others do the same. Her DVDs "Total Body Sculpting" and "28 Day Boot Camp" (a best seller) are available online and in stores nationwide. Read Nicole's full bio and blog posts.

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Member Comments

  • 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
  • ALICEPAYANG3
    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
  • BUSSEYBABY45
    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
  • I'm so happy for this article. I never felt like I felt into the pear or apple category. Now I know I'm a avocado! - 3/4/2013 2:00:11 AM
  • PINKTHUNDER
    Darn, thanks to these few extra pounds I've morphed from pear to avocado. If I'm not careful, the next thing you know -- poof! -- I'll be an apple. Note to self: burn more fat. - 2/7/2013 11:47:50 AM
  • AVoCADO??? So that's what happened to all that guacamole!! Interesting article. Can't wait to see some changes. - 2/4/2013 7:14:41 PM
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