By now, it's no secret that Americans are getting heavier. However, a recent study has revealed just how much heavier they've become — compared with Americans in the 1980s and early 1990s, the average American nowadays is 15 pounds heavier without getting any taller.

As the word "average" implies, this weight increase varied from American to American, but overall, the same trends were observed regardless of age, gender and ethnicity.

Packing On The Pounds

The new statistics, released Aug. 3 in a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, are based on the analysis of a sample of 19,151 people who underwent medical examinations and were interviewed at home between 2011 and 2014.

According to the report, the average weight of men in the United States rose from 181 pounds to 196 pounds between 1988 to 1994 and 2011 to 2014, while their average height remained the same at roughly 5 feet, 9 inches. Meanwhile, women rose from 152 pounds to 169 pounds within the same period, while remaining steady at just under 5 feet, 9 inches.

From a racial perspective, black people got the worst of it — women in particular. The report revealed that black women gained 22 pounds within that 20-year period while remaining the same average height. In a similar vein, black men on average gained one-fifth of an inch, but that gain was offset by an additional 18 pounds.

Unfortunately, this growth wasn't limited to adults, as children as young as 11 years of age also experienced notable weight gains. Girls are at least seven pounds heavier than they were 20 years ago, despite remaining at roughly the same height. Meanwhile, boys packed on an additional 13.5 pounds compared with two decades ago, while only gaining an inch of height.

Why We Are Getting Heavier?

According to Anthony Comuzzie, researcher at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio, the reasons behind this increase are complex, though at the end, he points to factors that we already know: an increasing sedentary lifestyle and a calorie-rich diet.

"At the end of the day, it is still fairly basic physics: If energy consumed is greater than energy expended, then there will be a gain in weight."

In addition, Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center and president of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, points to another grim fact: we aren't doing enough to combat obesity.

"There are many active efforts to combat obesity, but our culture at large is in the business of propagating it for profit, from big food to big media to big pharma. It's that simple. We do much more, across the expanse of our culture, to foster obesity than to defend against it," Katz said.

What This Means

Obviously, this means that humans have been packing on the pounds over the years, but when considering BMI, these numbers take on a new dangerous meaning.

To understand that meaning, however, we have to quickly discuss what BMI is. Simply put, BMI (otherwise known as body mass index) is a rough estimate of a person's body using height and weight measurements. The BMI classifies people into several categories, such as normal, overweight and obese.

In regular instances, gaining weight isn't necessarily a bad thing. However, the issue here is that gaining weight without increasing in height alters your BMI, and increasing by 15 to 16 points would be akin to gaining several points in that category.

"From a practical point," Comuzzie said, an average gain in weight "means that someone who was on the high end of normal weight would have likely moved into the overweight category, and those at the high end of the overweight category would have likely moved into the obese category."

This is crucial knowledge because "we know that increasing BMI is a good indicator of overall risk for a variety of diseases, including heart disease and diabetes," he added.

What's worse, he noted that these findings suggest there will likely be an associated increase in chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease in the coming years.

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