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Your waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is a quick, inexpensive measure of abdominal fat. It gives you a good sense of your current risk of insulin resistance and future risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Excess abdominal fat is troublesome because it’s hormonally active, proinflammatory, and a key factor in metabolic syndrome, a collection of conditions including increased blood pressure, blood-sugar imbalances, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

Metabolic syndrome is also associated with an increased risk for many inflammatory diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and some cancers.

1. Measure Your Body

  • Stand relaxed with feet close together.
  • Measure your waist by wrapping a tape measure around yourself at the height of your belly button (or, for lean people, at the smallest point of the waist).
  • Measure your hips at their widest point, generally right below your pelvic bones and around your butt.
  • Calculate your WHR with the following formula: waist____ / hip____ = _____ (WHR)

2. Assess Your Results

  • A WHR of more than 0.8 for a woman or 0.9 for a man signals that you may have too much belly fat.

3. Take Action

  • Concerned? See a health practitioner for a thorough assessment of your risk factors. Lifestyle changes (nutrition, activity, sleep, and stress management) are among the most effective ways to improve WHR and reduce your health risks.

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