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The average American is nearly obese and 24 lbs heavier than in the 60s, CDC data reveal

Americans are growing bigger but not taller: The average person is nearly obese and 24 lbs heavier than in the 60s, CDC data reveal

  • The US is still amid a decade-long obesity epidemic 
  • Since the crisis was declared in 1999 the average BMI has climbed five percent for men and women
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s measurement data found that our waists have gotten bigger too 
  • Men and women alike are, on average, just shy of obesity 

Americans are getting bigger – significantly bigger, reveal unsurprising but worrisome new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

The US has been mired in an obesity epidemic for nearly a decade – and each year has only seen the number of overweight and obese Americans climb. 

Despite sweeping public health campaigns, an explosion of the health and wellness industry and stark warnings about the risks of obesity, American men and women are still struggling to keep their weights under control. 

According to its latest data on how we measure up, the new CDC report found that Americans weight more, have bigger waists and higher body mass indexes than in the past. 

How do you measure up? Americans have bigger waists now  than we did 10 years ago, plus higher BMIs and waists – but are about the same height, the CDC’s data reveal 

When the CDC last reported America’s measurements – taken between 1999 and 2000 (for the most part), we already had worrying weights. 

The declaration of the obesity epidemic, however, has done little to curb its expansion across the nation. 

In 1990, less than 15 percent of the adult population of the US was classified as obese. 

Twenty years later, in 2010, a quarter or more had a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher in the majority of US states. 

Now, about a third of the population is obese, and two thirds are either overweight or obese. 

As if taking the whole nation as composite to a check-up, the CDC periodically takes some measurements to see how the average American is shaping up. 


Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height. 

Standard Formula:

  • BMI = (weight in pounds / (height in inches x height in inches)) x 703

Metric Formula:

  • BMI = (weight in kilograms / (height in meters x height in meters))


  • Under 18.5: Underweight
  • 18.5 – 24.9: Healthy
  • 25 – 29.9: Overweight
  • 30 or greater: Obese 

If the US was a man, he would be 5′ 9″ tall 197.9 lbs, with a 40 in waist. His BMI would be 29.1 – just shy of obese. 

The average American woman, then, would be just under 5’4″ tall, weighing 170.6 lbs, and 38.6 inch waist. The average American woman has a BMI of 29.6, meaning the average American woman rounds up to obesity. 

Men in the US were getting taller, with the average height increasing from the 1999-2000 period to the 2003-2004 but then falling again in this most recent data. 

Women have stayed effectively the same height. 

We might not be growing up, but we are growing out, according to the new data.

Men and women alike gained an average of over 24 pounds since 1960.  

Even since the 1999-2000 period, women have gained about seven pounds, and men have gained eight.  

And, the obesity epidemic rages on.  

BMIs have crept up by nearly five percent for men and women alike (with women’s gains outpacing those among men slightly) just since 1999-2000.

American’s are getting steadily bigger – and for our health’s sake, it isn’t better.