How Much Should a Man Weigh?

National averages don't tell the whole story

USA, New Jersey, Jersey City, Doctor assisting male patient on weighing scales in hospital
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It's no secret obesity is a burgeoning problem in the United States—and it doesn't discriminate. If you're a man, you're just as at risk of reaching an unhealthy weight as a woman is and, more important, for developing the problems that go hand-in-hand with carrying around more pounds and body fat than is ideal. Because of what is often now referred to as the obesity epidemic, more and more Americans of all ages, genders, and social status are dealing with excess weight-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

But when it comes to figuring out where you might fit on the spectrum of what's healthy and what's not, looking at average weights can be deceptive. For example, while the number on the scale may be exactly the same for you and for your best friend, for one of you the number may represent a perfectly acceptable weight while for the other it may represent a risky one. A man's height, the measurement of his middle, his genetics, and even his ethnicity all play a part in his overall health regardless of what he weighs. And it's important to note that the average male weight isn't the same as the ideal male weight. In fact, in the U.S., a country with high rates of obesity, the average weight has progressively moved farther and farther away from what might be considered ideal.

National averages aren't totally useless, however. From a broad perspective, these types of statistics can offer up an idea of the general health of the male population in this country.

They can help you to see where you fall within the statistics, which can be a powerful incentive to lose weight or exercise more if it's clear you're on the high end of the range for your height and age. Of course, you'll want to get your doctor's perspective as well.

How the Average Weight of Men Has Changed

Measurements of body mass index (BMI), weight, height, and even head circumference have been collected in the United States since the late 1950s.

They've revealed, not surprisingly, that men have been getting taller—and heavier.

A report from 1959 showed the average weight of male adults (those ages 20 and over) in the U.S. that year ranged from 146 pounds for a man 5 feet, 2 inches tall to 190 pounds for a 6-foot, 1-inch tall man. At those weights, the BMI of the shorter man would be a little over 26, and the BMI of the taller man would be at around 25. By today's standards, a man at either end of this spectrum would be considered overweight. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. According to the National Institutes of Health, a BMI between 25 and 29.9 signifies overweight, and a BMI of 30 or more signifies obesity.

In terms of height and weight trends, the average height of a man in the United States increased by a mere one inch in the 42 years between 1960 and 2002. However, within that same stretch of time, the average weight of an American male leaped from around 166 pounds to 191 pounds.

What's more, the biggest increases were racked up by older men:

  • Men between the ages of 40 and 49 saw a weight increase of 27 pounds.
  • Men between the ages of 50 and 59 logged an increase of 28 pounds.
  • Men 60 and older saw an increase of 33 pounds.

    Which brings us to the national averages. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a program sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and kids in the U.S., the average weight for a grown man in 2017 was 195.7 pounds.

    The average height was 5 feet, 9 inches (and the average waist size, which also is considered when assessing a weight, was nearly 40 inches). Altogether, these numbers put the average BMI of an American male over age 20 at 28.74—on the border of the clinical definition of obesity.

    Today, almost three of every four men in the U.S. is either overweight or obese. If you suspect you might be among those three, you can figure it out not by comparing your weight with the average weight of other men your age but by calculating your BMI. (The NIH has a helpful tool for doing this.) Then, if you should lose weight for the sake of your health, see your doctor. He or she can help you come up with a plan for trimming those excess pounds.

    Sources:

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). "Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2007-2010." Vital and Health Statistics. 2012; 11(252):1-48.

    CDC. Fast Stats, "Body Measurements," 2017.

    Hathaway, M. "Trends in Heights and Weights." Yearbook of Agriculture. 1959:1-5.

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