Four-Decade Study: Americans Taller, Fatter

Four-Decade Study: Americans Taller, Fatter

Americans are growing up and out, according to a new report on changes in height and weight since 1960.

Both men and women in the United States are roughly an inch taller and 25 pounds heavier than they were in 1960, the study concludes.

A measure of obesity has also jumped. BMI, or body mass index, is a weight-for-height formula. It has increased among adults from about 25 in 1960 to 28 in 2002.

The study was conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

So how big are we? The following figures are for Americans age 20-74:

The average height for men increased from just over 5-foot-8 in 1960 to 5-9? in 2002, while the average height for women increased from slightly over 5-3 in 1960 to 5-4 in 2002.

And the added girth:

The average weight for men rose "dramatically," in the CDC's words, from 166.3 pounds in 1960 to 191 pounds in 2002. Women went from 140.2 pounds in 1960 to 164.3 pounds in 2002.

Weight increases were greater among older men: Those between 40 and 49 were nearly 27 pounds heavier on average at the end of the study period. Men 50 to 59 got 28 pounds heavier, and 60 to 74 were almost 33 pounds heavier on average in 2002 compared with 1960.

With women, the older crowd fared better, or at least less worse. Women aged 40-49 were about 25? pounds heavier on average in 2002 compared with 1960. And women aged 60-74 were about 17? pounds heavier on average in 2002 compared with 1960.

Children continue to gain weight, too. The average weight for a 10-year-old boy in 1963 was 74.2 pounds; by 2002 the average weight was nearly 85 pounds. Among girls, that figure went from 77.4 to 88 pounds.

A typical 15-year-old boy weighed 135.5 1966 and 150.3 pounds by 2002. A typical 15-year-old girl went from 124.2 pounds to 134.4 pounds.

Average heights for children also increased. For 10 year-old boys it climbed from 55.2 inches in 1963 to 55.7 inches in 2002. Girls went from 55.5 to 56.4 inches. The height of an average 15-year-old went from nearly 5-7? to almost 5-8?. The height of girls at this age has not changed much.

Live Science Staff
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