There are two important ratios in body shape that indicate whether you’re at risk of being overweight or not:
- Your waist to height ratio should be less than 0.5 (half)
- Your waist to hip ratio should be less than 0.8 (women) or less than 1 in men
If you have ratios above these values, research suggests you could be at an increased health risk due to where you store fat on your body.
Apple and pear body shapes
Fat distribution is a strong indicator of whether you are, or will be, overweight. For example, if you tend to store your weight on your hips you’re considered to be “pear-shaped,” which is generally a healthy shape. If you’re more likely to store fat in your middle, around your abdomen you are “apple-shaped” which is generally considered to be a more unhealthy method of fat distribution, increasing your risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
You can work out your own body shape with the Ashwell Shape Chart (see below), which was developed to show reliable health risks for different body shapes. Suitable for both men and women, you just need to know your waist and height measurements to find out what body shape you are. The different colours indicate what action you need to take about your weight, if any.
Brown: chilli shape – you are tall and thin, and although current popular opinion regards this to be an ideal body shape, the chart advises you to take care, as you could be underweight. This is not always desirable for good health and you may need to gain a bit of weight in the future.
Green: pear shape – you store excess fat around your hips, thighs, and bottom, just under the skin, and are classified as having a healthy body shape. Illness and disease are not generally associated with pear-shaped bodies.
Yellow: small apple shape – you tend to store excess fat around your middle, and although you may not be overweight at the moment, you should take care not to put on any extra weight.