The average height and weight of women varies around the world, but in the United States in 2010, the average adult female height was 63.8 inches (approximately 5 feet 4 inches) and 166.2 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This number is higher than in the past and corresponds to a body mass index (BMI) that is classified as overweight.
Average Weight Variations by Ethnicity and Country
But America is a diverse country, with lots of different ethnic groups, all of which have their own averages for height and weight. While non-Hispanic white women weigh 165.4 pounds and are 5 feet 4 inches tall (on average), the average non-Hispanic black women weighs 187.9 pounds and is also 5 feet 4 inches tall. Additionally, the average Hispanic women weighs 160.6 pounds and is 5 feet 2 inches tall, and the average Mexican-American woman weight 161.5 pounds and is also 5 feet 2 inches tall.
Here is how the average American woman stacks up against women around the world:
America: 166.2 pounds and 5 feet 4 inches
Brazil: 137.8 pounds and 5 feet 2.2 inches
Chile: 148.8 pounds and 5 feet 2 inches
Germany: 148.8 pounds and 5 feet 5 inches
South Korea: 124.6 pounds and 5 feet 2 inches
Sweden: 147 pounds and 5 feet 5.7 inches
The UK: 152.1 pounds and 5 feet 4.4 inches
Increases in BMI
The average weight of American women in 2010 is significantly higher than that of women in 1960, when the average American woman weighed 140.2 pounds -- an increase of 26 pounds. The average height has also increased during that time period, but by a much smaller margin -- 63.1 to 63.8 inches. As a result of this disproportionate increase in weight, the average body mass index of women in 2010 is 28.7, which falls into the category of overweight. By comparison, the average body mass index of women in 1960 was 24.9, which is on the high end of normal.
Limitations of Using BMI
Although BMI is useful in helping to evaluate weight versus height, there are some limitations. For example, people that are more muscular are likely to have a higher BMI and may be classified as overweight by this system, despite being at a healthy weight. As a result, some of the increase in BMI that has happened between 1960 and 2010 could be due to an increase in muscle mass, but it is more likely that it's due to an increase in unhealthy, high-calorie foods and a decrease in activity levels.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Body Measurements
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Mean Body Weight, Height, and Body Mass Index, United States 1960–2002
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: Assessing Your Weight
- Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2007–2010