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Determining your body shape type and health risks

Your body shape can provide you with insight into your health risks. To find out if you are apple- or pear-shaped, calculate your waist-to-hip ratio (WHR). This is done by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

Waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) = Waist measurement / Hip measurement

To determine your waist circumference, measure around the smallest part of your waist, or about one inch above your navel. For your hip circumference, measure the widest part of your hip. Divide the waist measure by the hip measure to get your waist-to-hip ratio (WHR).

Apple-shaped body – WHR above 0.8 for women, above 0.9 for men

If you have an “apple-shaped” body habitus, your waist size is larger than your hip size.

Health risk: Most of the fat in an apple-shaped person is distributed around the internal organs in the abdomen area. This can be associated with a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Pear-shaped body – WHR below 0.8 for women, below 0.9 for men

If you are a pear type, your hip section is likely to be wider than your upper body, with most of the fat deposited around your thighs, hips and buttocks region.

Health risk: Having a pear body shape indicates a lower metabolic risk compared to an apple body shape.

Tips on how to influence your body shape type

Your body shape is determined by a number of factors. These include:

  • Genes
  • Diet
  • Lifestyle

“Your diet, level of activity and the type of exercise you do, together with genetic traits can affect the fat deposition and distribution in your body,” shares Dr Tan Hong Chang, Senior Consultant from the Department of Endocrinology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

Regardless of whether you have a “pear-” or “apple-” body shape, you should always:

  • Maintain a well-balanced diet that is appropriate to sustain a healthy body weight.

  • Cut back on saturated fats found in high-fat dairy and red meat, and hydrogenated oils found in processed foods. Instead, opt for a low-fat diet that includes low-fat dairy foods such as milk, yogurt and cottage cheese. This can help break down stubborn fat cells in your hips and thighs.

  • Do regular exercise of moderate intensity at least 20-30 minutes a day, at least five times per week.

See the previous page to learn what is the ideal waist size (health-wise) for men and women.     


Ref: S13

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