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.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. 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. 🙂


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