How to Determine Your Body Shape in 3 Simple Measurements

Are you satisfied with your body shape?

Are you suffering from a weight-loss issue?

Do you feel awkward about your bad body shape but with a standard weight?

Have you had such an experience that some new clothes do not suit you at all, for having a wrong perception of your body shape?

If you do have these experiences, you would better learn some formula of judging figures. In order to save you time, the three most popular formulas are recommended for you in this article.

Ideal body fat percentage for women_1200_628


Body mass index, or BMI, is a measurement of body size, which is usually placed at the top of the list of measurements. It combines a person’s weight with their height. The results of a BMI measurement can give an idea about whether a person has the correct weight for their height. The formula goes like this:

BMI = weight (kg)/ height (m)2

According to this formula and massive samples, the body shape can be divided into four categories.

  • Underweight:  BMI < 18.5kg/m2
  • Healthy weight: BMI = 18.5-24.99kg/m(23.99 kg/m2 for Asian)
  • Overweight: BMI = 25- 29.99 kg/m2  (27.99 kg/m2 for Asian)
  • Obesity: BMI > 30.0 kg/m2  

Obesity is frequently subdivided into categories:

  • Class 1: BMI = 30 to < 35
  • Class 2: BMI = 35 to < 40
  • Class 3: BMI =/>40. (Class 3 obesity is sometimes categorized as “severe” obesity.)

Each coin has two sides so BMI also has its pros and cons when it is used to determine the body shape.

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  • It is easy to figure out and a result can be got immediately.
  • The result of it can be used to some extent as a healthy predictor.
  • It is available for almost every age groups but kids (younger than 18 years old) and old people (older than 65 years old).


  • It cannot reflect the muscles mass component of body weight.
  • It fails to reflect the distribution of body fat.
  • It just provides a basic element as far as the relationship between weight and health is considered.

According to these pros and cons, it can be concluded that BMI can be used when you want to basically learn what kind of body shape you belong to, but BMI can only offer you a rough result. After all, it usually occurs that the same weight has different body shapes and BMI alone fails to answer all the questions. That’s why the other two measurements will be introduced below.

Waist Circumference (WC)

Waist circumference, also called WC for short, is an independent predictor of risk supplement to BMI. About the measurement way of WC, International Diabetes Federation (IDF) made a strict provision in the new definition of waist measurement, that is waist data must be from the legs apart shoulder-width, costal lower margin and iliac crest edge of the middle plane, neither over the umbilical plane, nor the largest convex plane. After you have measured your WC and get an accurate number, you can use it to judge whether you are in a safe range.

  • Caucasian

Men: ≥102cm, ≥40inches

Women ≥88cm, ≥35inches

  • Asian

Men: ≥90cm, ≥35.4inches

Women ≥80cm, ≥31.5inches

  • Māori and Pacific Islander

Men: ≥102cm, ≥40inches

Women ≥88cm, ≥35inches

Compared with BMI, WC is an important and accurate index to measure one’s life span. That is because the waist is the center of the kidney, pancreas, liver, and other important organs. Too much fat accumulating here will destroy the insulin system, increase the risk of hypertension, dyslipidemia, fatty liver, diabetes, and other diseases. Of courses, the index of WC also has pros and cons.

Ideal body fat percentage for men_1200_628


  • It is much more effective to monitor one’s healthy condition.
  • It is easy to measure, just needing a tape measure.
  • It is suitable for almost every age group and ethnicity.


  • It still fails to show body fat and muscle mass.
  • It doesn’t suit extreme obesity, that is BMI>35.
  • It is suitable for children <18 years old, pregnant and lactating women.

Considering that WC has a close tie with some kinds of diseases, it is a good way for people to monitor their waist circumference. Besides that, it is useful to judge what size of pants you should choose because many shops will offer you WC index charts for your reference. With a WC, you can pick out the most suitable pants easily.

Waist-to-Hip Ratio (WHR)

As the name implies, waist-to-hip ratio is the ratio between waist circumference and hip circumference, and it is an important index to judge central obesity. The measurement is very simple: dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference. Among that, waist circumference is measured at the upper edge of the navel, which is the thinnest part of the waist, meanwhile, hip circumference measures the widest part of the hip. The lower the ratio, the smaller the waist and larger the hips. A normal waist-to-hip ratio should be between 0.85-0.9 for men and 0.67-0.8 for women.

A high waist-to-hip ratio indicates excess belly fat. On the one hand, fat around the waist can cause insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. On the other hand, fat can spread into the blood, causing cardiovascular disease.

Despite these benefits, the waist-to-hip ratio still has some cons, and the pros and cons are as follows:


  • It is useful to monitor one’s healthy condition.
  • It is easy to operate and a result can be obtained immediately.
  • It is also a good index to judge a person’s body shape.


  • It still fails to show body fat and muscle mass.
  • It leads to the excess pursuit of the thinnest waist and biggest hip.

Except using to judge your health condition, it can be used to estimate whether a person’s body shape is good or not, so it is a good index for those who pursue an excellent body shape but have no idea about what is and how to get a good body shape.

All the above three indexes can be used to judge and monitor whether your body shape is qualified or not, and easy to operate, but they all have relative limitations. Therefore, when trying to examine what kind of body shape you are in, it’s suggested to combine the three indexes together to come to a conclusion about your body shape. A doctor should be consulted when necessary.

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