Bodies come in all shapes and sizes, so you won't find a chart that lists standard waist and hip size to go with each height and weight. You will, however, find a healthy weight range for each height, a healthy waist size range for a given hip size, and a healthy waist size range for a specific height. These ratios are all used to determine whether you are at a healthy weight and body fat percentage -- or you're overweight.
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Height, Weight and BMI
The average man in the United States is about 69 inches tall and weighs approximately 196 pounds, while the average woman is about 64 inches tall and weighs approximately 166 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Doctors often plug these two numbers into an equation to determine body mass index. They then use this number -- the BMI -- to estimate whether a person is at a healthy weight for their height. However, BMI statistics may underestimate body fat in older adults and women and overestimate body fat in people with a lot of muscle.
A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered normal, with any number above it considered overweight; anything below this BMI is underweight. A person who is 5,feet, 4 inches tall, such as the average American woman, is at a healthy weight if she weighs between 110 and 140 pounds. Someone who was 5 feet, 9 inches tall, like the typical American man, is at a healthy weight if he weighs from 128 and 162 pounds.
Your waist size also plays a role in your health; a waist circumference that's larger than 35 inches for women and larger than 40 inches for men indicates a higher disease risk. While the average man is just below this threshold -- with a waist measurement of 39.7 inches -- the average women has a waist size of 37.5 inches, which means she has a higher risk of obesity-related diseases. A large waist is a sign that you have a lot of visceral fat, the type of fat that's around your organs. This kind of fat has been linked to an increased risk for breast cancer, gallbladder surgery, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, making it riskier than the fat just under the skin, called subcutaneous fat.
People who carry pounds around their waist are usually more likely to suffer from certain health conditions than those who carry their weight mostly in the hip area. To determine your waist-to-hip ratio, divide your waist circumference in inches by your hip circumference in inches. This ratio can help you determine your body shape and whether you want to take extra steps to limit your risk for obesity-related health issues. If the number is above 0.80, you have what is often referred to as an "apple" shape, and if it is below this number, you have more of a "pear" shape, which is healthier.
If you're concerned about your heart disease risk, your waist-to-height ratio -- your waist circumference in inches divided by your height in inches -- may be a better tool for screening than either BMI or waist circumference alone, according to a review article published in Obesity Reviews in 2012. For women, a healthy WHtR is between 0.42 and 0.48, and for men, it's between 0.43 and 0.52. Using these calculations, the average American man is overweight; to be at a healthy weight, he needs a waist circumference of between 30 and 36 inches. The typical American woman has obesity and needs a waist circumference between 27 and 31 inches to be considered a healthy weight.
Overall Health Implications
It's possible that your results from these different ratios may not all agree. Perhaps your BMI is within the healthy range, but not your waist circumference. If this is the case, it may be healthy for you to lose a little weight so that all of your measurements fall within the healthy range. You should speak with your doctor to get more personalized recommendations on your weight and current risk for disease, however, as weight isn't the only factor that can affect disease risk.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Body Measurements
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: Assessing Your Weight and Health Risk
- University of Nevada Cooperative Extension: Weighing in on Body Fat
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Body Mass Index: Considerations for Practitioners
- American Cancer Society: Normal Weight Ranges: Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Obesity Reviews: Waist-to-Height Ratio Is a Better Screening Tool Than Waist Circumference and BMI for Adult Cardiometabolic Risk Factors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
- Coffee Break Training: Determining Your Waist-to-Height Ratio and Associated Health Risks
- ShapeFit.com: Waist To Height Ratio Calculator – Assess Your Lifestyle Risk
- Harvard Medical School: Abdominal Fat and What to Do About It