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Health News

Americans Just Keep Getting Heavier

by Leslie Pepper  

This probably won't shock you, but a new government report shows that Americans have gotten both heavier and wider in in the last 15 years.

Researchers from the CDC looked at the height, weight, body mass index (BMI), and, waist circumference of more than 47,000 adults who participated in the agency’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 1999 and 2016. They found that overall, men were about 8 pounds heavier on average in 2015–2016 compared with 1999–2000, while women were almost 7 pounds heavier.

Non-Hispanic black men, non-Hispanic Asian men and women, and Mexican-American women were the only groups in the report that did not show a significant weight increase.

Currently, the average American man is about 5’9”and weighs about 198 pounds with a 40-inch waistline, according to the report, while the average American woman is about 5’4” and weighs about 171 pounds with a 38.5-inch waistline. Research has linked waist circumference of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women—as well as waist circumference that’s more than half of one’s height—with a substantially increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other illnesses.

There were no significant changes in women’s average height. While average height in all men declined by only 0.1 inch, a bigger decrease was seen in men ages 40 to 59, who lost about 0.2 inch, compared to men the same age 15 years earlier. One explanation for the decrease in men’s height may be the changing demographics of the country, with a growing number of Mexican-Americans, who on average are shorter than non-Hispanic white Americans.

Also see Measuring Body Weight: Beyond BMI.