Waist-hip ratio

Waist-hip ratio

Waist-hip ratio or Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is the ratio of the circumference of the waist to that of the hips. It is calculated by measuring the waist circumference (located just above the upper hip bone) and dividing by the hip circumference at its widest part (waist/hip). The concept and significance of WHR was first theorized by evolutionary psychologist Dr. Devendra Singh at the University of Texas at Austin in 1993. ["Adaptive significance of female physical attractiveness: Role of waist-to-hip ratio." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65] [cite book |last=Buss |first=David |title=The Evolution of Desire|origyear=1994|format=hardcover |edition=second |year=2003|publisher=Basic Books |location=New York |language=English|pages=56 |chapter= |]


A WHR of 0.7 for women and 0.9 for men have been shown to correlate strongly with general health and fertilityFact|date=June 2008. Women within the 0.7 range have optimal levels of estrogen and are less susceptible to major diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disorders and ovarian cancers. Citation| first= | last=| coauthors=| contribution=The Rules of Attraction in the Game of Love| title=The Rules of Attraction in the Game of Love| editor-first=| editor-last=| coeditors=| publisher=| place=| pages=| date=| year=| id= | contribution-url=http://www.livescience.com/health/060213_attraction_rules.html| format=| accessdate=2007-09-01 ] Men with WHRs around 0.9, similarly, have been shown to be more healthy and fertile with less prostate cancer and testicular cancer. [cite news | first= | last= | coauthors= | title=Men's preferences for women's profile waist-to-hip ratio in two societies. | date= | publisher= | url =http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S1090513805000620 | work = | pages = | accessdate = 2007-09-01 | language = ]

WHR has been found to be a more efficient predictor of mortality in older people than waist circumference or body mass index (BMI) [ [http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medicalnews.php?newsid=49218 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition August 12,2006] ] . If obesity is redefined using WHR instead of BMI, the proportion of people categorized as at risk of heart attack worldwide increases threefold. [ [http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/issue?volume=366&issue=9497"Obesity and the risk of myocardial infarction in 27,000 participants from 52 countries: a case-control study."] The Lancet, November 5, 2005]

Other studies have found that waist circumference, not WHR, to be a good indicator of cardiovascular risk factors, [ [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=11360147"A comparative evaluation of waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and body mass index as indicators of cardiovascular risk factors. The Canadian Heart Health Surveys."] ] body fat distribution, [ [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=17535865"Superiority of skinfold measurements and waist over waist-to-hip ratio for determination of body fat distribution in a population-based cohort of Caucasian Dutch adults."] ] and hypertension in type 2 diabetes. [ [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/entrez?Db=pubmed&Cmd=ShowDetailView&TermToSearch=17546244"Waist measure and waist-to-hip ratio and identification of clinical conditions of cardiovascular risk: multicentric study in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients"] ]


Scientists have discovered that the waist-hip ratio (WHR) is a significant factor in judging female attractiveness. Women with a 0.7 WHR (waist circumference that is 70% of the hip circumference) are usually rated as more attractive by men from European cultures [cite journal|journal=Ethology and Sociobiology|last=Singh|first=Devendra|coauthors=Young, Robert K.|date=2001-June-27|title=Body Weight, Waist-to-Hip Ratio, Breasts, and Hips: Role in Judgments of Female Attractiveness and Desirability for Relationships|volume=16|issue=|pages=483–507|accessdate=2007-11-23|url=http://web.missouri.edu/~rouderj/3010/readings/Singh.pdf|doi=10.1016/0162-3095(95)00074-7|format=PDF] . Such diverse beauty icons as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren and even the Venus de Milo all have ratios around 0.7, even though they have different weights. In other cultures, preferences appear to vary according to some studies, [cite journal|journal=J Cosmet Dermatol|month=June | year=2006|volume=5|issue=2|pages=190–4|title=The shape of beauty: determinants of female physical attractiveness.|last=Fisher|first=M.L. |coauthors= Voracek M.|accessdate=2007-08-04|pmid=17173598|doi=10.1111/j.1473-2165.2006.00249.x] ranging from 0.6 in China, [cite journal|journal=Am J Hum Biol|month= January | year= 2007 |volume=19|issue=1|pages=88–95|pmid=17160976|title=Studies of human physique and sexual attractiveness: sexual preferences of men and women in China.|last=Dixson |first=B.J.|coauthors=Dixson A.F., Li B., Anderson M.J.|accessdate=2007-08-04|doi=10.1002/ajhb.20584] to 0.8 or 0.9 in parts of South America and Africa, [cite journal|journal=Personality and Individual Differences| last=Marlowe|first= F.|coauthors=Wetsman, A. |year=2001|title=Preferred waist-to-hip ratio and ecology|volume=30|issue=3|pages=481–489|accessdate=2007-08-04|url=http://www.fas.harvard.edu/%7Ehbe-lab/acrobatfiles/preferred%20waist.pdf|doi=10.1016/S0191-8869(00)00039-8|format=PDF] [cite journal|journal=Evolution and Human Behavior|last=Marlowe|first=F.W.|coauthors=Apicella, C.L. and Reed, D.|year=2005|title=Men’s Preferences for Women’s Profile Waist-Hip-Ratio in Two Societies|volume=26|pages=458–468|accessdate=2007-08-04| url=http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hbe-lab/acrobatfiles/profilewhr.pdf|doi=10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2005.07.005|format=PDF] [cite journal|journal=Arch Sex Behav|month=June | year=2007|volume=36|issue=3|pages=369–75|title=Human physique and sexual attractiveness: sexual preferences of men and women in Bakossiland, Cameroon| last=Dixson |first=B.J.|coauthors=Dixson A.F., Morgan B., Anderson M.J.|accessdate=2007-08-04|pmid=17136587|doi=10.1007/s10508-006-9093-8] and divergent preferences based on ethnicity, rather than nationality, have also been noted. [cite journal|journal=Eat Behav|month=August | year=2007|volume=8|issue=3|pages=319–33|title=Do men hold African-American and Caucasian women to different standards of beauty?| last=Freedman|first=R.E.| coauthors=Carter M.M., Sbrocco T., Gray JJ.|accessdate=2007-08-04|pmid=17606230|doi=10.1016/j.eatbeh.2006.11.008] [cite journal|journal=Eat Behav.|month=July | year=2004|volume=5|issue=3|pages=191–8|title=Ethnic differences in preferences for female weight and waist-to-hip ratio: a comparison of African-American and White American college and community samples|last=Freedman|first=R.E. |coauthors=Carter M.M., Sbrocco T., Gray J.J.|accessdate=2007-08-04|pmid=15135331|doi=10.1016/j.eatbeh.2004.01.002]

Note: In the studies referenced above, only "frontal" WHR preferences differed significantly among racial and cultural groups. When actual (circumferential) measurements were made, the preferred WHR tended toward the expected value of 0.7 universally. The apparent differences are most likely due to the different body fat storage patterns in different population groups. For example, women of African descent tend to store their fat in their buttocks more than women of other groups. Therefore, their WHR as viewed from the front may appear to be much greater than when viewed from the side. The inverse may be true of women of East Asian ancestry. Therefore, African men appear to value a woman's small WHR in profile and an Asian men may place more value on an exaggerated frontal WHR compared to European men.


While the study is still being reviewed, there is a moderate correlation between WHR and intelligence of offspring. Using data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, William Lassek at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania and Steven Gaulin of the University of California, Santa Barbara, found a child's performance in cognition tests was linked to their mother's waist-hip ratio, a proxy for how much fat she stores on her hips.cite journal|journal=Evolution and Human Behavior|month=July | year=2007|title=Waist-hip ratio and cognitive ability: is gluteofemoral fat a privileged store of neurodevelopmental resources?|last=Lassek|first=W.|coauthors=Gaulin S.|accessdate=2007-10-04|pmid=S1090-5138(07)00073-6]

Children whose mothers had wide hips and a low waist-hip ratio scored highest, leading Lassek and Gaulin to suggest that fetuses benefit from hip fat that contains polyunsaturated fatty acids critical for the development of the fetus's brain.

Artificial alteration

Many methods have been used to artificially alter a person's apparent WHR. These include corsets used to reduce the waist size and hip and buttock padding used by some transgendered people to increase the apparent size of the hips and buttocks.

ee also

*Body fat percentage
*Body Mass Index
*Central obesity
*Physical attractiveness
*Sexual attraction


External links

* [http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-08/lsoh-wrs080706.php Waist-hip ratio should replace body mass index as indicator of mortality risk in older people] EurekAlert August 8, 2006

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