Australian Government: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare METeOR Home Page

Adult—waist-to-hip ratio, N.NN

Identifying and definitional attributes

Metadata item type:Help on this termData Element
Short name:Help on this termWaist-to-hip ratio
METeOR identifier:Help on this term270207
Registration status:Help on this termHealth, Standard 01/03/2005
Definition:Help on this term

A ratio calculated by dividing the waist circumference of an adult person by the hip circumference of that same person.

Data Element Concept:Adult—waist-to-hip ratio

Value domain attributes

Representational attributes

Representation class:Help on this termRatio
Data type:Help on this termNumber
Format:Help on this termN.NN
Maximum character length:Help on this term3

Data element attributes

Collection and usage attributes

Guide for use:Help on this term


WHR = waist circumference (cm) divided by hip circumference (cm).

Adult WHR is a continuous variable. Adult WHR cannot be calculated if either component necessary for its calculation (i.e. abdominal circumference or hip circumference) has not been collected (i.e. is coded to 999.9).

Collection methods:Help on this term

As there are no cut-off points for waist to hip ratio for children and adolescents, it is not necessary to calculate this item for those aged under 18 years.

Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) should be derived after the data entry of waist circumference and hip circumference. It should be stored on the raw data set as a continuous variable and should not be aggregated or rounded.

Comments:Help on this term

Adult cut-off points for WHR, that may define increased risk of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality, range from 0.9 to 1.0 for men and 0.8 to 0.9 for women (Croft et al. 1995, Bray 1987, Bjorntorp 1985). These values are based primarily on evidence of increased risk of death in European populations, and may not be appropriate for all age and ethnic groups.

In Australia and New Zealand, the cutoffs of >0.9 for males and >0.8 for females were used in the Australian Bureau of Statistics' 1995 National Nutrition Survey.

This metadata item applies to persons aged 18 years or older as no cut off points have been developed for children and adolescents. It is recommended for use in population surveys and health care settings.

More recently it has emerged that waist circumference alone, or in combination with other metabolic measures, is a better indicator of risk and reduces the errors in WHR measurements. WHR is therefore no longer a commonly used measure.

It is recommended that in population surveys, sociodemographic data including ethnicity should be collected, as well as other risk factors including physiological status (e.g. pregnancy), physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption. Summary statistics may need to be adjusted for these variables.

Body fat distribution has emerged as an important predictor of obesity-related morbidity and mortality. Abdominal obesity, which is more common in men than women, has, in epidemiological studies, been closely associated with conditions such as coronary heart disease, stroke, non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus and high blood pressure.

Waist- to-hip ratio (WHR) can be used:

  • to indicate the prevalence of abdominal obesity and its sociodemographic distribution (problem identification)
  • to evaluate health promotion and disease prevention programs (assessment of interventions)
  • to monitor progress towards national public health policy
  • to ascertain determinants and consequences of abdominal obesity - in nutrition and physical activity surveillance and long-term planning.

Presentation of data:

Means, 95% confidence intervals, medians and centiles should be reported to one decimal place. Where the sample permits, population estimates should be presented by sex and 5-year age groups. Estimates based on sample surveys may need to take into account sampling weights.

For consistency with conventional practice, and for current comparability with international data sets, recommended centiles are 5, 10, 15, 25, 50, 75, 85, 90 and 95. To estimate the 5th and 95th centiles, a sample size of at least 200 is recommended for each group for which the centiles are being specified.

Source and reference attributes

Origin:Help on this term

National Health Data Committee

National Centre for Monitoring Cardiovascular Disease

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Relational attributes

Related metadata references:Help on this term

Is formed using Person—hip circumference (measured), total centimetres NN[N].N Health, Standard 01/03/2005

Is formed using Person—waist circumference (measured), total centimetres NN[N].N Health, Standard 01/03/2005

Supersedes Waist-to-hip ratio, version 2, Derived DE, NHDD, NHIMG, Superseded 01/03/2005.pdf (19.0 KB)

My items Help on this term
Download Help on this term