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October 17, 2001


Question from Richmond, Virginia, USA:

My grandmother had type�2 diabetes. Can you please explain the waist to hip ratio?


The waist-to-hip ratio was meant to measure the amount of central fat. To do the test, the circumference of the waist is measured with a flexible tape placed at the natural waistline. The hip is measured at the point of the maximum size in the buttocks. There are charts which show risk at different ratios in men and different charts for women.

The reason this is important is that central fat is thought to have extra cardiovascular risk and metabolic risk, associated with diabetes. The worst ratio is anything that increases the waist-to-hip number. Fat in the hip is from the subcutaneous compartment and thought to have less cardiovascular risk.