GOOD

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The stereotype of the overweight American is most often represented in the image of an obese, white man. But it turns out some of the gains made by U.S. women over the past 50 years are literal, and often outpacing their male counterparts.


That’s because, as The Washington Post reports, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that the average American woman now weighs 166.2 pounds, nearly as much as the average American man weighed in the 1960’s (166.3). Women aged 20 and up have also outpaced men in terms of overall weight gain since 1960, 18.5 percent to 17.6 percent, respectively. The Post notes that average height over that time has risen by about one inch, accounting for some of the rise in average weight but that “the story is mostly one of growing girth,” resulting from poor diet choices and reduced physical mobility.

For some context, considering the following statistics the Post shared:

The average American is 33 pounds heavier than the average Frenchman, 40 pounds heavier than the average Japanese citizen, and a whopping 70 pounds heavier than the average citizen of Bangladesh. To add up to one ton of total mass, it takes 20 Bangladeshis but only 12.2 Americans.

The CDC data shows men have put on plenty of weight, too, now weighing an average of 195.5 pounds with an average waist circumference of 39.7 inches. Of course, not all of that change can strictly be blamed on bad food and poor lifestyle choices. And it would be wrong to imply that women having fuller, natural bodies is a “bad thing.” There’s a greater emphasis on athleticism and muscular physiques in modern American culture. Plus, a wider distribution of basic nutritional options means that, food deserts aside, the average American has greater access to and more food options than ever before. And even with all of the bad temptations, some of those weight gains can actually be attributed to people living healthier lifestyles.

Nonetheless, the numbers show that Americans are growing and are larger than most of our global counterparts, which can have negative repercussions not only on our bodies but on our environment and even the economy.