There are many stereotypes about the American people. As one of them, I’ve learned to identify a few less favorable ones in my time. However, the biggest stereotype of all we could arguably identify as:
And I didn’t even have to research that one. Just ask anyone — anyone — not from the U.S. and they’ll tell you how chunky we all are. Heck, scratch them out the picture; we’ll tell you how fat we are, and then go and tell ourselves how fat each other is.
As the cliché goes, there’s good reason for everyone to believe this. Americans aren’t the fattest population in the world by percentage. A bunch of nations in the Pacific (and Kuwait for some reason) have proportionally more obese people, with little Nauru topping out at 61%. But, to be fair, Nauru is the smallest state in the world besides Monaco and Vatican City, and it only has about 12,000 people. Match that with the U.S. that has over 300 million, and you get over a third of the people being obese (118M) and another 105M that are generally overweight. That’s almost two-thirds of the nation being overweight. What’s more, sadly 1 in 6 American children is obese.
So this one is pretty true.
Some trends about this, though, are:
- childhood obesity is on the decline
- almost half of the African-American community is overweight
- there’s more obesity as a whole in the South than elsewhere in the country
- fun-fact, Colorado is the least overweight state
- not-so-fun-fact, obesity is on the rise across the globe
Pretty much the entire Western World (the Americas, Europe) plus Australia and Oceania see more deaths from being overweight than being underweight. The U.S. is a big part of this problem too since fast-food and processed food items have been made easy, famous, and accessible to much of the rest of the world. Now, we’re not the only players in this, but America definitely plays a huge role in the enduring presence of overweight-ness.
All that said, of course all Americans aren’t fat. I’m pretty underweight, and there are about a whole third of Americans that aren’t overweight. That has to count for something.
But, on to a quality a little less shameful than obesity: height! This is an interesting one because, apparently, Americans used to be the tallest people in the world for a while. Studies seem to show a correlation between the wealth of a country and the height of its citizens.
Despite the U.S. having the highest income on average now, Americans even out at around 175 cm tall.
Let’s face it, if your reading this, you probably don’t use inches and feet.
They still fall short behind the UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, and the tallest of all: the Dutch. It looks like Paul Bunyan turned ex-pat in the Netherlands (or to Canada, where he belongs). As it goes, Americans still rank as some of the tallest people in the world, so we’re not far off the mark.
*A quick note about this is that Asians and “Hispanics” tend to be shorter than non-Hispanic white or black people.*
In summary, and without digging too deep, Americans are pretty fat and tall. They’re one of the tallest nations overall in the world, home to the most overweight people under one starry flag. But don’t get me wrong, there are many a short and/or thin American person to be found. A bunch of them are related to me.
Make sure to check these resources folks. There are some really helpful articles for understanding America’s weight and height situation with lots of interesting facts. Comment and let me know what you think!
The height situation in the U.S.: https://www.wsj.com/articles/whos-the-tallest-of-them-all-its-no-longer-the-americans-11553254201#:~:text=Based on white and black,U.S. compares to Western Europeans.
Comparing countries’ average heights: https://www.healthline.com/health/average-height-for-men#world–record-heights
Interesting facts about weight/obesity in America: https://www.healthline.com/health/obesity-facts#13.-Colorado-has-the-lowest-obesity-rates.
Other quick facts about obesity in America: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm
Defining overweight and obesity: https://www.who.int/health-topics/obesity#tab=tab_1
Who’s Paul Bunyan?: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Bunyan