Evaluating CMR

Clinical Tools

Waist-to-hip Ratio (WHR)

WHR, Health Risk, and Intra-abdominal Fat

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Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) is an anthropometric measure commonly used to characterize regional adiposity. WHR is a crude estimate of the relative amount of abdominal fat: the higher your waist girth compared to your hip girth, the greater your proportion of abdominal fat. As early as the 1980s, several prospective epidemiological studies reported that WHR is a significant predictor of type 2 diabetes, (1) coronary heart disease, (2) and death (3, 4). A large number of studies have since replicated these initial findings, with some reporting that WHR was a stronger predictor of myocardial infarction (5) or mortality risk (6) than body mass index (BMI) or waist circumference alone. However, this observation is not seen consistently, as most studies report that waist circumference is an equivalent, if not a superior, measure of health risk (7-11) and mortality (12-14). WHR is also reported to have a similar relationship to intra-abdominal (visceral) fat as waist circumference and BMI (15-22). Consequently, as WHR provides no clear advantage in predicting health risk, it has been suggested that waist circumference may be a more clinically useful tool because it is easier to measure.


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