Three days ago Guy Trebay posted a N.Y Times “Critics Notebook” piece called “Naked Came the Strangers.” Without delving too much into the ins and outs of the article (which is subtitled “How our nudes have changed in the last 50 years”), please consider a portion of the seventh paragraph.
“In 1969, Americans were, it would appear, much thinner — men and women equally,” Trebay writes. “As it happens, this superficial impression is borne out by the available data, since in 1971 the average 19-year-old man weighed just 159.7 pounds, according to figures compiled by the National Center for Health Statistics, and the average woman 131.”
Given the “Americans were much thinner” line, you’d think Trebay would follow this up with statistics about how much heavier the average 19 or 20-year-old is today. But he avoids such comparisons.
The reason, I’m guessing, is that N.Y. Times editors wouldn’t want to offer an impression that the paper is taking any sort of dim view of the average weight of today’s young Americans, as that might constitute an oblique form of fat-shaming.
And so Trebay runs for cover by stating an obvious, uncontested fact — that older people are heavier than their younger selves. “A hippie now at Woodstock 50 — if such existed and if a planned anniversary concert had not fallen apart — would have added an additional 14 pounds to his frame and a woman another 20,” he states. (When Trebay says “a hippie at Woodstock 50”, he obviously means an old hippie as young hippies don’t exist outside of Deadheads.)
My reading of that meter tells me that many older guys (55-plus) are a lot more than 14 or 15 pounds heavier than their 19 year-old selves. Try 25 or 30 pounds heavier, and I’ve seen a lot worse.
By Trebay’s statistics (currently 14 pounds heavier than 159 pounds) the average 69 year-old guy is 173 pounds.
Last December a National Health Statistics Reports PDF stated that “the average American man between 20 and 39 years [of age] weighs 197.9 pounds, and that the average waist circumference is 40.2 inches, and the average height is just over 5 feet 9 inches (about 69.1 inches) tall.”
In other words the average younger to middle-aged guy of 2019 is 38 pounds heavier than 20-year-olds were in 1971, or 48 years ago.