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In Brief

What the Average American Man Looks Like

avatars of average man in various countries
The average American man compared to his Japanese counterpart. Guess which one is the American? (Image credit: Nickolay Lamm)

The average 30- to 39-year-old American man is 5 foot 9 inches, has a 39-inch waist, and a body mass index (BMI) of 29, just shy of obesity, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's anthropometric data.

And this is what that man looks like: Artist Nickolay Lamm has created avatars of the average U.S. man, along with his similarly average counterparts in Japan, the Netherlands and France. His comrades across the pond are much slimmer, with BMIs of 23.7, 25.2 and 25.6 respectively, The Atlantic reported. (For adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a BMI of 18.5 – 24.9 normal weight, 25.0 – 29.9 overweight and 30.0 and above as obese.)

American men used to be the tallest in the world, but after World War II American heights have mostly plateaud while European men have shot up: The average Dutch man is now 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall, for instance. Men also didn't used to be so round in the United States, but lifestyle changes over the last 50 years have made the American population increasingly overweight.

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Tia Ghose

Tia is the assistant managing editor and was previously a senior writer for Live Science. Her work has appeared in Scientific American, Wired.com and other outlets. She holds a master's degree in bioengineering from the University of Washington, a graduate certificate in science writing from UC Santa Cruz and a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. Tia was part of a team at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that published the Empty Cradles series on preterm births, which won multiple awards, including the 2012 Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism.