Women’s Waists Have Expanded over the Last 12 Years

We are all aware that the past quarter of the century brought about a broadening of American waistline, but we could do with some more details on how exactly it occurred and how much it actually grew. Now we have a new study that brings to light some answers – and suggests somewhat inscrutably that there may not be a link with the growth of the body mass index.


The study, delivered to us by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looks into comparative waist measurements (and body mass indexes) of people-participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for the period of the years 1999 – 2012.

The results of the comparisons were as follows: the average waistline growth rate for women comes to approximately 1.5 inches throughout the survey time; most of this increase belongs to women on the right side of 40. For men the figure is rather lower – 0.75 inches.

At the same time men’s BMIs rose by 0.7, while women’s grew even less (0.6). Therefore, for some reason women’s BMIs have shown a very low rate of increase, but their waistlines have outgrown men’s at a significant ratio. Why does it happen like this? Regrettably, the authors of the study were unable to supply us with a definite answer. The only thing they did was refer us to previous studies where widening midsections were regarded in connection with a number of different factors like depression, insufficient sleep, use of certain medicines, stress, and yo-yo dieting.

In a way these discoveries can explain why you begin to feel pinched by your belts in spite of not having grown much heavier, but the authors accentuate the idea that the study’s results cannot be taken as conclusive. They point out that taking waist measurements is a somewhat tricky business, and some of the results may be a little out. Furthermore, about 3% of those participating in the examination survey failed to supply the necessary data and had to be excluded from the study.

So, we will have to wait for further research until we can understand the process clearly; yet, the authors sound quite sure that a woman’s BMI measurements should not be thought to provide a definite idea of her weight.

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