Americans Still Fat

Sizing Up America: Signs of Expansion From Head to Toe

For the first time since World War II, a national survey has sized up the average American body, not just by weight and height or even the standard chest-waist-hip routine, but in more than 240 measurements tip to toe.

The results confirm what other statistics have shown: that Americans have grown. In their sheer detail, the measurements also show just how and where — an intimate portrait of the national body with all its Lycra-ed love handles, sucked-in stomachs and fashionably disguised spare tires.

The survey — called SizeUSA and sponsored by clothing and textile companies, the Army, Navy and several universities — measured more than 10,000 people in 13 cities nationwide using a light-pulsing 3-D scanner.

The article is chock-full of stats outlining just how fat the average American is. While I have little doubt that obesity is rampant–the evidence is everywhere–I’m a bit skeptical that the average woman is now a size 14. Also, given that the last study was in 1941, a lot of the variation is explained by better nutrition; Americans are much taller and muscular than they were 60 years ago.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. jen says:

    It’s been a well known fact for more than 10 years that the average woman wears a size 14. We women have known this. Where have you been?

  2. Ursula says:

    Those numbers are right on. Most women are in the 12/14 size range. I know that’s shocking for some of you men to accept — but it’s the reality.

  3. Ben Schorr says:

    In the discussion of fitness, health and obesity I think it’s interesting that the mass media still emphasizes the obsolete concepts of body-mass index and the old “Height/weight charts” which most people knowledgeable on the subject have long since debunked.

    Body fat percentage is a much more valid measurement of health than weight (or clothing size) is. I agree with James that Americans are taller and more muscular than they used to be.

    Of course, that’s not to say that our fast-food culture hasn’t also made a lot of people fat…just that absolute weight is not a good measurement of that.

    As for women…I don’t have any idea what the average size is. There are a lot of beautiful women out there (regardless of their size), including my wife, and that’s all that matters to me. 🙂