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Americans Slightly Taller, Much Heavier than 40 Years Ago
Adult men and women are roughly an inch taller than they were in 1960, but are nearly 25 pounds heavier on average as well, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, average BMI (body mass index, a weight-for-height formula used to measure obesity) has increased among adults from approximately 25 in 1960 to 28 in 2002.
The report, Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index (BMI) 1960-2002: United States, prepared by CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, shows that the average height of a man aged 20-74 years increased from just over 5'8" in 1960 to 5'9½" in 2002, while the average height of a woman the same age increased from slightly over 5'3" 1960 to 5'4" in 2002.
Meanwhile, the average weight for men aged 20-74 years rose dramatically from 166.3 pounds in 1960 to 191 pounds in 2002, while the average weight for women the same age increased from 140.2 pounds in 1960 to 164.3 pounds in 2002.
Though the average weight for men aged 20-39 years increased by nearly 20 pounds over the last four decades, the increase was greater among older men:
For women, the near opposite trend occurred:
Meanwhile, the report documented that average weights for children are increasing as well:
According to the report, average heights for children increased as well over the past four decades. For example:
Average BMI for children and teens has increased as well:
The BMI is a single number that evaluates an individual's weight status in relation to height. BMI is generally used as the first indicator in assessing body fat and has been the most common method of tracking weight problems and obesity among adults.
The data in the report was based on actual body measurements taken as
part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which CDC's
National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) has conducted periodically
since 1960. The NCHS report, Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index
(BMI) 1960-2002: United States is available on-line at
This page last updated October 27, 2004
States Department of Health and Human Services