Test 06: Waist and Hip Cirumferences


Video 6 - Waist and Hip Circumferences

‘All information contained in these videos is taken from the ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 10th Edition’

Along with the amount of fat a person has, the pattern of distribution of the fat is also important from a health perspective. Carrying a higher proportion of fat on the trunk and around the organs increases the risk of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome compared to carrying fat on the hips and thighs. For this reason, measuring waist and hip circumferences if often recommended within a health assessment.


  1. All measurements should be made with a flexible yet inelastic tape measure.
  2. The tape should be placed on the skin surface where possible, without compressing the subcutaneous adipose tissue.
  3. Take two measurements at each site and re-measure if duplicate measurements are not within 5mm.
  4. Rotate through measurement sites to allow skin to regain normal texture i.e. do not repeat the same measurement site immediately.

Waist measurement location

With the subject standing, arms at the sides, feet together, and abdomen relaxed, a horizontal measure is taken at the narrowest part of the torso (above the umbilicus and below the xyphoid process).

Hip measurement location

With the subject standing and feet together, a horizontal measure is taken at the maximal circumference of the buttocks.

The waist to hip ratio is calculated by dividing the circumference of the waist by the circumference of the hip. Health risk increases as waist-to-hip ratio increases. Young adults are at very high risk of disease when their WHR is > 0.95 (men) and >0.86 (women). The World Health Organization has established cutoff points for ‘substantially increased risk of metabolic complications’, these are > 0.90 for men and > 0.85 for women

Waist circumference alone can also be used to predict health risk as outlined in table 4.2 (P73).