Americans still having trouble keeping weight off

Americans & weight trouble - Dr. David Samadi

It should come as no surprise that as a nation, we are still having difficulty slimming down.  Infact, we keep getting heavier – since the late 1980s and early 1990s, the average American has gained at least 15 pounds or more without growing taller in height.

This information is from a report released August 3 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics.  Over 19,000 people undergoing medical exams and interviews were analyzed for the 2011-2014 statistics.  This report also compared gains in weight and height to 1988-1994 statistics. 

What the analysis found was that the average weight of men in the U.S. went from 181 pounds to 196 pounds with the average height of 5 feet, 9 inches, staying the same.  For women, the average weight increased from 152 pounds to 169 pounds while their average height remained fixed at just under 5 feet, 4 inches. 

The ethnic group gaining the most in weight were blacks.  Black women’s weight spiked by 22 pounds with no increase in height while black men did grow an extra one-fifth of an inch but gained 18 pounds.

Children also were not immune to the increase in girth.  American girls are heavier by an additional 7 pounds with no increase in height while boys did add one inch in height but also expanded by an additional 13.5 pounds.

Clearly the message to reach a healthy body weight for a person’s height is not being heeded.  The findings from this report indicate the U.S. population is continuing to climb in terms of added pounds at a fairly rapid rate.  This is not good news as carrying excess weight is a known risk factor for increasing the incidence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. 

The gain in additional weight for children through adults indicates that many Americans have moved a notch or two in their body mass index (BMI).  If a person was on the high end of the normal weight category for BMI, they now have most likely moved into the overweight category or if they were in the overweight category, they are now most likely in the obese category. 

BMI is a measure of body fat based on your weight in relation to your height where it classifies people into the weight categories of underweight, normal, overweight, or obese.  It can be used as a screening tool and is one way to see if a person is at a healthy body weight for their height. 

As our BMI increases, so does the risk for a variety of diseases.  At this time, there is no conclusive reason for this rise in additional weight gain.  The fitness industry seems to be a profitable industry as according to annual surveys conducted by the International Health, Racquet, and Sportsclub Association (IHRSA), there has been a significant increase in the number of health clubs, gyms, and other fitness centers.

Individuals may be joining these fitness centers but how frequently and consistent are they being used?  Our food choices and amount consumed is always the other factor to consider.  Are we eating out more, do we have little time for home-cooked meals, are we skipping meals – all which can be adding fuel to the fire for weight gain.

What about stress and lack of sleep?  We know these factors can also contribute to a person’s weight gain more than we may realize. 


Until significant efforts are seriously made to change the culture of obesity in this country, we may just keep putting on more pounds in the coming years.  A start would be to require a course in basic nutrition at both the high school and college level to begin educating the public on the topic of human nutrition.  We often know more about how to feed out pets a healthy diet than we do ourselves.  It’s time to start taking just as good of care of ourselves as we do our pets.