Many women can tell you exactly how much they weigh and how tall they are. That's because females grow up cross-referencing their own biometrics with the standard American height and weight chart. It's no secret that the average weight for American's continues to increase each year.
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But do you know how your numbers stack up compared to other women in the country? Here are the averages for American women when it comes to height, weight, waist circumference and body mass index.
Average Height and Weight
In the United States, the average adult female height is 63.7 inches (approximately 5 feet 3 inches) and 168.5 pounds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We have seen a significant increase in the average height and weight of women since 1960 when the American woman weighed 140.2 pounds.
The average height increased during that time period, but by a much smaller margin — 63.1 to 63.7 inches. As a result of this disproportionate increase in weight, the average body mass index of women is now 29.8, 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.
Measuring your waist circumference is another biometric method commonly used to assess health. Health and medical experts use your waist circumference measurement to help screen for possible health risks that come with being overweight or obese.
If most of your fat is around your waist rather than at your hips, you’re at a higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For women, this risk goes up with a waist size that is greater than 35 inches, which is important to note since the average American woman's waist circumference is 38.1 inches.
Body Mass Index
You can determine your body mass index (BMI) by dividing your weight in inches by your height in inches squared. Then multiply by 703. Sounds complicated, right? The good news is there are several online calculators you can plug your height and weight information into and the calculator will do the math for you. Use the following categories to determine where you land:
- Underweight: <18.5
- Healthy: between 18.5 and 24.9
- Overweight: between 25.0 and 29.9
- Obese: above 30.0
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 now 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