American waistlines continue to grow

The average waistline of Americans grew by more than an inch in the last decade.

In addition to the growing waistlines, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the number of Americans with abdominal obesity increased by about eight percentage points, according to a Reuters article.

Abdominal obesity is defined as a waist circumference of about 40 inches for men and about 35 inches for women, according to researchers.

The researchers looked at the waist circumferences of nearly 33,000 adult men and women age 20 and older. Overall, the average circumference increased from 37.6 inches in 1999-2000 to 38.8 inches in 2011-12, according to the article.

Men had the smallest average increase (.8 inches) while the average increase among women was larger (1.5 inches), according to the article.

During the same time period, the prevalence of abdominal obesity increased from 46.4 percent a decade ago to 54.2 percent. Women had the greatest increase in that category, too, according to the article.

Past studies have found no change in body mass index, which is a measurement of weight in relation to height, between 2003-2004 and 2011-2012. But BMI doesn’t measure how weight is distributed.

“We’re still at a high level of obesity regardless of how you want to measure it,” Dr. Earl Ford, the study’s lead author, told Reuters.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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