Friday, May 18, 2012

Determining your waist-to-hip ratio
If you own a measuring tape, you can measure yourself to determine where you carry most of the excess fat on your body. Calculating your waist-to-hip ratio helps you determine not only where you carry most of your fat, but also how much of a threat your fat actually poses to your health.

Inch by inch
Do you want to figure out where your extra weight is (if you don’t already notice it in a mirror?) and if that makes you an apple or a pear? If so, this section can help. Use a tape measure and take the following steps to figure out your waist-to-hip ratio:

1. Stand in a relaxed position with your feet together and your belly hanging out.

(You don’t necessarily want to be standing in front of a mirror when you take this measurement.)

2. Measure your waist at its narrowest point.

Write down that number.

3. Measure your hips at their widest part (midway around your butt).

Write down that number, too.

4. Divide your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

The resulting figure is your waist-to-hip ratio.

Your weight is considered healthy if your waist-to-hip ratio is less than 0.8 for women and less than 0.9 for men. If you’re a woman and your ratio is between 0.8 and 0.85, or a man with a ratio between 0.9 and 1.0, you may be at moderately high risk of developing health problems associated with being overweight. Higher ratios indicate higher risk.

Nowadays, your waist size gets more attention from health experts than its relationship to your hips. One of the most significant predictors of health problems is a large waist size coupled with a high BMI. If you’re a man with a waist size more than 40 inches or a woman with a waist size more than 35 inches, and your BMI is higher than 25, you’re at an especially high risk for developing health problems such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Apples and pears
So after you know your waist-to-hip ratio, you can determine what type of fruit shape you are. Apples and pears exemplify two very specific body types.

  • An apple-shaped person carries his excess weight on the upper half of his body, around the waist. If you’re an apple-shaped person, your waist-to-hip ratio is less than 0.8 if you’re a woman and less than 0.9 if you’re a man. (The formula for figuring out your waist-to-hip ratio is in the previous section.)
  • A pear-shaped person carries most of her weight below the waist, on the hips and thighs, and in the rear. If you’re a pear-shaped person, your waist-to-hip ratio is higher than 0.8 if you’re a woman and higher than 0.9 if you’re a man.

Apples are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers than pears. But if you’re an apple, never fear! You can eat less and exercise more to reduce your belly fat and possibly reduce your risk of developing any of these medical problems.

You inherit your basic body shapes, for the most part, and men are more likely to be shaped like apples while women are more likely to be shaped like pears. But no hard-and-fast rule dictates a person’s shape because shapes change, and factors like age and alcohol consumption have been known to turn pear-shaped women into apples, with all the associated health risks.

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