Americans Are on Average 15 Pounds Heavier Than Two Decades Ago

On Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics released a report on the state of weight gain in the country. As sad as it is unsurprising, the report indicates Americans are increasingly getting heavier.


According to statistics gathered from 2011-2014, the average American has put on “15 or more additional pounds without getting any taller,” in comparison to similar figures taken from the late 1980s and early '90s. This conclusion, published in Health Daily, was taken from an analysis of “19,151 people who underwent medical examinations and were interviewed at home” with a consistent age comparison taken as a control for slowing metabolisms.

In other words, rather than attributing weight gain to one age group getting older, the study took into account a specific age range between each period. For instance, girls aged 11 were on average the study found, “seven pounds heavier even though their height is the same” and for that same boy demographic, “an additional 13.5 pounds compared to two decades ago” with one-inch height in average growth.

Most broadly, the findings reveal that “the average weight of men in the United States rose from 181 pounds to 196 pounds” between both periods, with same average height of around 5 feet, 9 inches. For women, they went from “152 pounds to 169 pounds” with a consistent height of “just under 5 feet, 4 inches.”

Another comparison made using the demographic of race followed a similar trend. The study found that African Americans gained more than any other race. On average, black women added 22 pounds despite maintaining their height, while black men, who grew about one-fifth of an inch, added an average 18 pounds.

"We are not doing nearly enough to control and reverse the obesity epidemic and doing far too much to propagate it. This is another notice of that sad fact," said David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, who was interviewed for the report.

Anthony Comuzzie, an obesity researcher and a scientist with the department of genetics at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio added in an interview that people who used to be on “the high end of normal weight ... have likely moved into the overweight category, and those at the high end of the overweight category ... into the obese category." Comuzzie said this is attributable to “less exercise and more access to food that's rich in calories.”

Comuzzie offered a foreboding conclusion that the U.S. population is still gaining weight at "a fairly rapid rate” and warned of the implications this has for the “overall health of the nation.” More specifically, “there will likely be an associated increase in chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease in the coming years," he said.

Katz offered an equally worrisome diagnosis.

"There are many active efforts to combat obesity, but our culture at large is in the business of propagating it for profit, from big food to big media to big pharma. It's that simple. We do much more, across the expanse of our culture, to foster obesity than to defend against it," he said.

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