Waist/ Hip Ratio and Cardiac Disease Risk
All healthy adults have some body fat. Women generally have proportionately more body fat than men who, in turn, have more muscle tissue than women. Where a person stores the fat tissue he or she accumulates is gender related. Men are most likely to pile excess fat around the middle– a pattern called an “apple.” Women usually store excess fat around their hips, buttocks and upper thighs, a pattern called a “pear.” Apple shaped people have a higher risk of heart disease. Pear shapes have a lower risk.
To find out whether you’re an apple or a pear, run this “fruit-salad” test for heart disease.
- Run a tape measure around your waist, and write down the results.
- Run a tape measure around your hips and write down the results.
- Divide the measurement of your waist by the measurement of your hips. (ex. Waist of 27in divided by hips of 37 in = 0.73.
This number, 0.73, is called a waist/hip ratio. It can be used to predict your risk of weight related health problems. A woman whose waist/hip ratio is > 0.8 or a man, whose ratio is > 0.95 is at a higher risk of weight related health problems, including heart attacks.
One explanation for this relationship between body shape and heart risk lies with fat cells, which make up your fatty tissue. All fat cells grab up HDL’s, (the good cholesterol) removing them from your bloodstream and making it impossible for them to do their job of dragging cholesterol out of your body. However, people with lots of fat around their middle tend to have lower levels of HDLs than do people who are chunkier at the hips, buttocks and thighs. This, in turn, makes them at a higher risk of heart disease due to lower HDL levels.