New estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention leave little doubt how much bigger we’re getting as a nation.
Since the late 1980s and early 1990s, the average American has put on 15 or more additional pounds without growing any taller. The statistics came from a sample of 19,151 people who underwent medical exams and were interviewed between 2011 and 2014.
“If there is no reverse in the patient’s course of obesity, then he/she will be dealing with considerable consequences including diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, etc.,” said Dr. Abbas Hasnain, an internal medicine physician in Porterville, California. “Each of these requires even more monitoring and medication for prevention and management.”
Our kids continue to be part of this trend as well. On average, 11-year-old girls are seven pounds heavier than they were two decades ago — but no taller. Boys gained an inch in height, but also gained an additional 13.5 pounds.
The average weight of a man in the U.S. rose from 181 pounds to 196 pounds, while the average height remained the same — about 5 feet 9 inches. The average woman, meanwhile, went from 152 pounds to 169 pounds, while the average height remained at just under 5 feet 4 inches.
“Many people have taken extra jobs, leaving less time for decent physical activity,” said one physician.
By race, blacks gained the most on average — black women added 22 pounds despite staying the same average height. Black men grew about one-fifth of an inch, but added 18 pounds.
“I’ve noticed that many have increased in size and weight based on many factors — including the economy, which essentially leaves families to set out for a fast food type of diet, as it is ‘affordable.’ Also, I have been noticing that the economy has required many to take on extra jobs, leaving less time for any decent physical activity,” Hasnain told LifeZette.
Besides a better diet, Hasnain said most guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes a week of physical activity, which he knows people aren’t getting. That’s a great place to start. He calls on communities to make an investment in their residents as well.
“Preventing this undesired progression of obesity requires modification from many parties, including society itself. We need to all recognize that this is an epidemic as evidenced in the article and understand the dangers of untreated obesity. Further, we need policy changes and … changes in [restaurants’] menus, at an affordable price.”
He added, “We must demand that cities ensure access to affordable healthy options to all areas, and not just metropolitan and higher-income areas.”