How much health risk do you have from carrying too much mass around your midsection?
That question arises because studies point to the Waist-to-Height Ratio (WHtR) as a better indicator of early health risk than the Body Mass Index (BMI). As a general rule of thumb, if the circumference of your waist is greater than half your height, you have an elevated risk for developing chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, joint and low back pains, hyperuricemia, and obstructive sleep apnea syndrome.
The Waist-to-Height Ratio is also reported to be better than BMI in predicting heart attacks, especially for women, with higher ratios corresponding to higher risk.
That sounds like good bit of information to have, so we've built a tool to calculate your Waist-to-Health Ratio. Since you probably already know your height, the hard part will be finding out your waist circumference. Here's a video showing how to measure it.
Once you've done that for yourself, you're ready to go. If you're accessing this article on a site that republishes our RSS news feed, please click through to our site to access a working version of the tool. Here it is:
In using the tool, be sure to use the same units of measurement for both waist circumference and height. You'll get accurate results so long as you don't start mixing and matching inches and centimeters together....
According to documents leaked in February 2022, starting in July 2022, U.S. Air Force personnel will have their Waist to Height Ratio assessed. Individuals with waists that measure at more than half their height will be reassessed six months later, with those whose waists exceed that threshold at the later measurement date separated from service. "Seperated from service" meaning "discharged from the Air Force". Here's the chart the Air Force will be using to make that determination:
The thresholds shown on this chart for low, moderate, and high risk are those we've built into the tool's feedback. We've also made a point of giving the answer to the same two-decimal place results as would be used by Air Force medical personnel in their assessments, so there are no surprises for what to expect.
Previously on Political Calculations
Margaret Ashwell and Sigrid Gibson. Waist-to-height ratio as an indicator of ‘early health risk’: simpler and more predictive than using a ‘matrix’ based on BMI and waist circumference. BMJ Open 2016:6:3010159. [DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2015-010159 | NIH: PDF Document]. 14 March 2016.
Sanne A.E. Peters, Sophie H. Bots and Mark Woodward. Sex Differences in the Association Between Measures of General and Central Adiposity and the Risk of Myocardial Infarction: Results From the UK Biobank. Journal of the American Heart Association. Vol. 7, No. 5. [DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.117.008507]. 28 February 2018. American Heart Association. Waist size predicts heart attacks better than BMI, especially in women. [Online Article]. 28 February 2018.
Darsini Darsini, Hamidah Hamidah, Hari Basuki Notobroto, and Eko Agus Cahyono. Health risks associated with high waist circumference: A systematic review. Journal of Public Health Research. Vol. 9, No. 2: Papers from the 4th International Symposium of Public Health (4th ISOPH), Brisbane, Australia. 29-31 October 2019. [DOI: 10.4081/jphr.2020.1811 | NIH: PDF Document]. 2 July 2020.
ShapeFit. Waist to Height Ratio Calculator - Assess Your Lifestyle Risk. [Online Article and Tool]. 31 March 2015.