The average weight of U.S. men over the age of 20 has increased to 195.7 pounds, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 2011 to 2014. The former 180.7-pound average was based on data from 1988-1994. The heights of both men and women remained about the same.
The tale of woe doesn’t stop there. The average woman in 1960 weighed 140.2 pounds. Today, the average weight for a woman is 168.5 pounds. And as ABC News reports, adolescent boys and girls seem to be the most at risk, with a 12 pound average weight gain – proportionately more based on height – compared to 20 years ago.
So what can we do about it?
Dr. Goutham Rao, chairman of the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health at Case Western Medical Center, told ABC News the increase in weight gain over the past 50 years is due to many factors, since body weight is determined by genetics as well as environment.
Rao said there are basic steps people can take to begin losing weight. Drink water instead of beverages that contain calories, walk more and do not focus on the number of pounds lost or a certain deadline for the weight loss. He says the key is to, “Think about adopting healthy behaviors that can last a lifetime.”
Vivica Kraak, an assistant professor of nutrition policy in Virginia Tech’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, says that children have a biological preference for sweet and salty tastes and build lifelong relationships with brands, making them especially vulnerable to marketing techniques at a young age. She adds that worldwide, approximately 42 million children younger than five years old and 155-200 million school-aged children are overweight and obese.
She recommends the adoption of a standardized, government-supported nutrient profiling system to restrict the marketing of unhealthy food and beverage products to those aged 14-18.