Americans have continued to grow larger but not higher since the turn of the millennium, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to the report, the average American weight and waistline have expanded over the last 18 years, while the height of the average adult has remained stable, if not decreased somewhat.
The report is based on data from the National Health and Nutrition Survey (NHANES), a regularly conducted survey, and an interview on eating habits and living habits of Americans. As part of NHANES, a selected and nationally representative group of volunteers undergo physical examinations. The authors analyzed data from the 1999 to 2000 version of NHANES and compared it with data from the 2015-2016 version, which accounted for more than 40,000 people in total. They averaged the weights of adult men and women, accounting for factors such as age.
From 1999 to 2000, the average adult male weight was 189.4 pounds, but from 2015 to 2016, that average weight rose to 197.9 pounds. The average adult woman was 163.8 pounds from 1999 to 2000, but 170.6 pounds from 2015 to 2016. Both men and women saw their waist increase more than an inch since 1999, with men now sporting a waist of 40.2 inches and women a waist of 38.6 inches.
Meanwhile the average man was 69.2 inches tall from 1999 to 2000 but 69.1 inches from 2015 to 2016. And the average woman was 63.8 inches tall between 1999 and 2000 and 63.7 inches between 2015 and 2016.
The new report is a successor to a CDC report published in 2004. This report, which looked at trends dating back to the 1960s, found that American males and females gained an average of 24 pounds and grew more between 1960 for 2002.
The current weight gain is not as dramatic as it was then. But the results are a sign that recent increases in body mass index, or BMI, are catching a major trend. Some experts and activists criticized BMI, which depends on our weight and height, as a faulty metric to find out when someone's size might be on an unhealthy level, and pushed for other measures, such as waist circumference, to be used.
One of the arguments for releasing BMI is that dramatic height differences, such as being too high or too low, can distort the measure, classifying some people as obese who could be healthy while others may have a normal BMI and still not be healthy. . But if Americans in general are getting heavier and staying at the same height and if these statistics reflect recent BMI trends, this suggests that BMI is acting as a reliable barometer on whether the bodies of Americans are becoming on average , less healthy over time.
The bottom line is that Americans are becoming heavier, on average, a trend that is reflected in these new data, and this additional weight is responsible for an increase in obesity. And obesity remains linked to an increased risk of numerous health conditions, particularly type 2 diabetes.
So far, despite some small successes in preventing childhood obesity among the very young, there are no indications that we are improving the situation facing the obesity crisis as a whole.[CDC]