You’re Not Getting Much Taller, America. But You Are Getting Bigger.
Meet the average American man. He weighs 198 pounds and stands 5 feet 9 inches tall. He has a 40-inch waist, and his body mass index is 29, at the high end of the “overweight” category.
The picture for the average woman? She is roughly 5 feet 4 inches tall, and weighs 171 pounds, with a 39-inch waist. Her B.M.I. is close to 30.
That’s a not at all how Americans used to look. New data show that both men and women gained a whopping 24 pounds on average from 1960 to 2002; through 2016, men gained an additional eight pounds, and women another seven pounds.
The new report, published by the National Center for Health Statistics, contains some remarkable insights into changes in the American body in recent decades.
In 1999, white men averaged 192 pounds, and black men, 189 pounds. By 2016, the average white man weighed 202 pounds, and the average black man, 198 pounds. (These are rounded numbers.)
Average waist size among white men increased to 40 inches in 2016 from 39 inches in 1999, and among black men to 39 inches from 38 inches.
An average woman in 1999 weighed 164 pounds and had a 36-inch waist. Black women averaged 186 pounds in 2016, almost unchanged since 1999.
But the average white woman weighed 162 pounds in 1999 and 171 pounds in 2016. Average waist size among black women in 2016 rose to 40 inches from 39 inches in 2016, and among white women to 38 inches from 36 inches.
The C.D.C. has data on Hispanics beginning only in 2007, when Hispanic men weighed on average 184 pounds. By 2016, the figure was 191 pounds.
The average Hispanic woman in 2016 weighed 169 pounds, compared with 161 pounds in 2007.
Among all men, age-adjusted mean height increased to 69.4 inches (about 5 feet 8 inches) in 2005 from 69.2 inches in 1999, and then decreased to 69.1 inches by 2016. The decrease may result from an increasing population of Mexican-American men, whose average height in 2016 was 61.5 inches.
Black men’s average height decreased to 69.1 inches in 2016 from 69.3 in 2005. Women’s average height did not change significantly over the period.
“People tend to overreport their height and underreport their weight,” said the senior author, Cynthia L. Ogden, an epidemiologist at the C.D.C. The new figures, she noted, are the result of actual measurements.
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