Archive for the tag - america

This Is What The Average Body Looks Like.

There’s no such thing as normal. But average is another cup of tea entirely. Using huge sets of available data, researchers have calculated the statistics for the average American 30-something male.

He’s 5′ 9″ tall and has a 39″ waist. His body mass index (BMI) is 29, just one short of the medical definition of obese. Based on the data, here’s what this average American male looks like:


It’s no secret that the average American male is becoming increasingly round. Just 50 years ago, the obesity rate for men was just over 10%. Now, the obesity rate is around 30%. Yikes.

Of course, the average American male isn’t alone in the world. He has some buddies from other countries. Here’s what they look like and how they measure up:

Screen Shot 2013-10-09 at 11.14.15 AM

From left to right, it’s the US, Japan, Netherlands and France.

In Japan, the average BMI is 23.7. In the Netherlands, it’s 25.2. In France, 25.55.

The average American male, especially when compared to his counterparts, can serve as a reminder about the importance of exercise and nutrition. And who wants to be average, anyway? By moving more and eating smarter, you can certainly beat average - and dramatically improve the quality of your life.

What do you think of the average American male?

Are Americans About To Get… Skinnier?

fat-americaHere’s a headline that you probably didn’t expect: Americans may be on the verge of getting… skinnier.

That is, according to a new study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that found Americans ate 118 fewer calories per day in 2009 and 2010 compared to four years earlier. The study also found that Americans are consuming more home-cooked meals and eating less in restaurants.

Of course, there’s also lots of fine print.

For one, fewer calories consumed doesn’t necessarily mean that Americans will lose weight. Weight loss occurs when we eat fewer calories than we burn - and this study is looking at only one end of the equation. We’d also need to look at the daily calorie expenditure of Americans to get a clearer picture.

Second, obesity rates are still very high. In 2009 and 2010, 36% of Americans were obese compared to just 15% in 1980. But after decades of increases, the rate has held level through 2012. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has started to see a decline in some childhood obesity rates.

Third, according to the researchers, it appears that the economy was a factor. A decrease in restaurant eating and calorie consumption may be more the result of less money rather than healthier habits.

Nonetheless, these small but substantive shifts may be the result of greater public awareness and pressure on food manufacturers and the restaurant industry to make healthier options more readily available. If this is true, we may actually start to see a decline in obesity rates moving forward through the next decade. It’s too early to tell and we’ve got a long way to go, but these indicators are certainly optimistic.


How Much Food Does the Average American Eat in a Year?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average American eats nearly 2,700 calories a day. With the exception of athletes and very active individuals, this caloric intake exceeds expert recommendations by several hundred calories. Over time, all those extra calories add up - and it’s no wonder that 2/3 of Americans are overweight.

In the journey to eating smarter, we need to look at where we’re at today. We need to assess the situation before decided which areas of our diet are most ripe for improvement. To that end, and while these numbers will vary greatly from individual to individual, I think today’s infographic is a great place to start.

(Scroll down for additional commentary)

For me, there are a few important takeaways.

At first glance, it can seem encouraging that we consume 415 pounds in vegetables annually (which translates to more than 20% of our overall food intake by weight). That is, until you realize that corn and potatoes account for 173 pounds of that. Though there’s nothing wrong with corn and potatoes, let’s make more space for other veggies in our diets.

An obvious area for improvement is the 110 lbs of red meat we consume. In a frequently cited study, Harvard researchers found that 9% of male deaths and 7% of female deaths would be prevented if we lowered red meat consumption to 1.5 ounces (or less) per day. That would be just over 34 pounds annually. In other words, replacing 2 out of 3 beef dishes with a leaner meat - or vegetables - would be a wise move for the average American.

We also eat a lot of non-cheese dairy products. In other words, we a great opportunity to substitute with dairy alternatives that are less calorie-dense, like almond milk.

Speaking of calorie dense foods, we’d all be well served by reducing the 141 pounds of caloric sweeteners consumed annually. In part, this is fueled by the 53 gallons of soda we drink annually. And the 24 pounds of ice cream. Replacing just a few glasses of soda and other high-sugar products per week would go a long way to a healthier lifestyle.

In the comments below, let me know how your personal eating habits differ from the average American. And what areas for improvement are there in your diet?