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American Adults Edging Closer to Obesity

CDC reports average 60-plus man is nearly 195 pounds; a woman, over 166 pounds

Doctor measuring an overweight man's waist using a tape measure.
Getty Images

The average American adult has gained a lot of weight over recent decades to the point of being just a few pounds short of obesity, U.S. officials reported on Thursday.

They’ve gotten taller, too, but not by much. The typical height for men, 5-foot-9, is actually about a tenth of an inch shorter than a decade ago, apparently because recent immigrants have brought down the average.

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Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) came to these conclusions after compiling findings from a 2015-2016 health survey of more than 5,000 U.S. adults and comparing them with prior surveys going back to the early 1960s.

“In conclusion, mean weight, waist circumference and BMI [body mass index] in adults have increased over the past 18 years. Conversely, mean height did not change in many demographic subgroups, and in some groups was lower in 2015–2016 than in 1999–2000,” the researchers wrote in a national health statistics report.

In the early ‘60s, the average man was slightly more than 5-foot-8 and weighed 166 pounds, and the average woman was 5-foot-3 and 140 pounds.

The latest survey data indicate that men are 5-foot-9, gaining an inch since the ‘60s, and are more than 30 pounds heavier, reaching an average of 198 pounds. Women are 5-foot-4 and about 30 pounds heavier, reaching an average of nearly 171 pounds.

Older adults generally followed the overall pattern: a steady weight gain since the ‘60s, with height averages leveling off or dipping in the past decade.

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