As part of the Body Measurement Project, artist Nickolay Lamm compared graphic renderings of men from America, Japan, the Netherlands, and France based on measurement averages from CDC anthropometric data.
The average American male age 30 to 39 measures at five-feet-nine-inches tall with a waist of 39 inches. His BMI (body mass index) is 29 — one number below the medical definition of obese — while men from Japan, the Netherlands, and France showed BMI averages of 23.7, 25.2, and 25.6, respectively.
And, guess what ladies? American women didn't do much better. The same CDC data puts the female BMI in this age group at 28.7.
These numbers have not always been so drastic. Fifty years ago, the average American would not have been the roundest or shortest in such an assessment. Until 60 years ago, the U.S. population was the tallest in the world. Now, the average American man is three inches shorter than the Dutch man, and Japanese heights are reaching American averages. Anthropologists tie these recent changes primarily to diet and lifestyle.
So, what can we take from this data? Instead of understanding our ranking as a failure, we need to see it as an opportunity to improve — to really look at the lifestyle choices we make and change them for the better. (The Atlantic)