EMG Health Numbers: Waist to Height Ratio

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Waist to Height

The waist to height ratio is one method by which health care professionals estimate an individual’s body composition in order to evaluate his overall health.1 Enter your information in inches into EMG’s Waist to Height Ratio Calculator to determine your ratio.

Although the Body Mass Index (BMI) is generally more well known than the waist to height ratio for measuring body composition, many physicians believe the waist to height ratio is the better of the two.2 This superiority is due to the fact that BMI can be skewed by an individual’s frame or quantity of muscle mass. In fact, the European Congress on Obesity recently stated that the waist to height ratio is the best way to predict a person’s risk of serious health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

Unlike BMI, the waist to height ratio is based on waist size, which is the most dangerous place to carry weight and takes into account an individual’s frame.



How to Determine Your Waist to Height Ratio

First, measure your waist size with a tape measure around the belly button. Do not measure your waist where your pants sit because this is often smaller than your waist at the belly button. It is important to actually measure your waist size and not rely on your pant size because many clothing manufactures actually make their sizes larger than they state on the label to avoid offending customers. Then, enter your information in inches into EMG’s Waist to Height Ratio Calculator to determine your ratio. The chart below categorizes the ratios and provides a description of each category.

Waist to Height Ratio


<35% Underweight
35 – 43% Healthy: Slim
43 – 53% Healthy
53 – 58% Overweight
58 – 63% Seriously Overweight
>63% Morbidly Obese

EMG Health Numbers Homepage: Health Numbers

External Resources: Wikipedia: Waist to Height Ratio

Updated: May 12, 2015


1. Schneider HJ, Friedrich N, Klotsche J, et al. The predictive value of different measures of obesity for incident cardiovascular events and mortality. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Apr 2010;95(4):1777-1785.
2. Lee CM, Huxley RR, Wildman RP, Woodward M. Indices of abdominal obesity are better discriminators of cardiovascular risk factors than BMI: a meta-analysis. J Clin Epidemiol. Jul 2008;61(7):646-653.