Standards of living have increased dramatically throughout the Western world over the past century. This has had a direct impact upon the average height and weight of men in all developed countries. The United States is no exception. The average height for Western men is now 4 inches taller than it was prior to the 20th century. Since 1960, American men have also added weight to their taller frames. The average American is now twenty-five pounds heavier than his 1960s counterpart.
In 2002, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published the findings of a study that charted the changes in the American body since 1960. It found that the average height of an adult U.S. male is 69.4 inches, around an inch taller than in 1960. American men are continuing to grow from one generation to the next.
The study found that the tallest American men were aged 40 to 49. They measured in at an average of 69.7 inches. Those over 60 averaged just over an inch shorter while men over 75 came in at 67.4 inches. Men aged 20 to 29 measured 69.6 inches, though many at the lower end of the age range might still be growing.
The most alarming findings of the report concern weight. Men aged 20 to 74 weighed 191 pounds on average. In 1960 the average was just 166.3 pounds. The biggest increases were seen in middle-aged men. Men in their 50s weighed 28 pounds more than their 1960 counterparts while men aged 60 to 74 were almost 33 pounds heavier.
Adult males should have a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) of 20 to 25. In 1960 the average adult male had a BMI of around 25. The CDC study found that the average American male aged 20 to 74 had a BMI of 27.9. Men in their 50s had an average BMI of 28.7. The report predicted that the problem could get worse as American children were far heavier than their 1960s counterparts and could develop a higher average BMI in the future. Ten-year-old boys were over 10 pounds heavier in 2002 than in 1960.
Internationally, American males are among the tallest in the world. While average heights are similar throughout the developed world, men in poorer countries are often significantly smaller. Scandinavian countries have a large average height with Swedish males coming in at almost 5’11”. The world’s tallest race are the Nilotic peoples of Sudan, however, who have an average male height of 6’3”.