Girths are circumference measures at standard anatomical sites around the body.
- aim: to measure the circumference of the hip area, as a measure of the underlying hip structure, musculature and adipose tissue. When combined with the measure of abdominal girth in the Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR), has been shown to be related to the risk of coronary heart disease
- equipment required: flexible metal tape measure and pen suitable for marking the skin. If a plastic or cloth tape is used, it should be checked regularly against a metal tape as they may stretch over time.
- procedure: The hip girth measurement is taken over minimal clothing, at the level of the greatest protrusion of the gluteal (buttock) muscles. The subject stands erect with their weight evenly distributed on both feet and legs slightly parted, making sure not tense the gluteal muscles. When recording, you need to make sure the tape is not too tight or too loose, is lying flat and is horizontal. It may help to have the subject stand on a box to make the measurement easier.
- reliability: Factors that may affect reliability include changes to the testing personnel, constant and even tension on the tape, and correct landmarking (finding the correct anatomical site for measurement).
- advantages: low costs involved in the testing procedure, and ease of self testing
- comments: Clothing over the site should be removed if possible to make sure measuring tape is positioned correctly and that the correct circumference is determined. Girth measurements combined with skinfold measurements can give a clearer picture of changes in tissue composition and distribution of muscle and fat. For this girth measurement, due to the location of the measure, care should be taken to maintain personal privacy of the subject, and sometimes it is appropriate to measure over clothing. If so, this should be recorded with the results.
- references: Welborn TA, Satvinder S Dhaliwal and Stanley A Bennett (2003). Waist–hip ratio is the dominant risk factor predicting cardiovascular death in Australia. The Medical Journal of Australia; 179 (11/12): 580-585.