Even a few generations ago, many Americans held jobs that kept them physically active. Working all day at factories, in shipyards, and on farms, or doing fairly physical housework at home, Americans stayed in decent shape. Plus, with many women staying at home and cooking for themselves and their families, Americans didn’t eat pre-packaged snack foods, nor were drive-throughs part of the landscape.
American Bodies Then and Now
Sometimes for better and sometimes for worse, the American lifestyle has dramatically changed over the last fifty years. We’ve moved out of factories and into cubicles, off of farms and into suburbs. Women make up a large percentage of the workforce, and the whole family is so busy that stopping at the drive-through sounds much less stressful than making a meal at home.
Our bodies have paid the price for our affluence. Consider these statistics:
• In 1960, the average weight for men between the ages of 20 and 74 was 166 pounds. 2002: 191 pounds.
• In 1960, the average weight for women 20 to 74 was 140 pounds. 2002: 164 pounds.
• In all adult age ranges, for both sexes, Americans by 2002 were an average of 27 pounds heavier than in 1960.
The statistics for children and teens is equally alarming:
• Average weight for a 10 year-old boy, 1963: 74 pounds. 2002: 85 pounds.
• Average weight for a 10 year-old girl, 1963: 77 pounds. 2002: 88 pounds.
• Average weight for a 15 year-old boy, 1966: 136 pounds. 2002: 150 pounds.
• Average weight for a 15 year-old girl, 1966: 124 pounds. 2002: 134 pounds.
Although the average height for children and adults has also risen over time, a body mass index calculator shows that body fatness also increased (Source for statistics: Centers for Disease Control). As a result, the children who are growing up today are the first generation of American children expected to have a shorter lifespan than their parents’ generation.
Take a Positive Step towards a Healthier Life
Use the body mass index calculator and BMI chart, the ideal body weight calculator, and the daily calorie calculator to take the first step towards a healthier life. You can’t go anywhere until you know where you’re starting from.