Overall, the country’s waist circumference grew by 1.2 inches between 1999-2000 and 2011-2012, climbing from a mean of 37.6 inches to 38.8 inches – and pushing more than half the nation, 54 percent, into the category of the abdominally obese.
“There’s definitely a change,” said Dr. Earl S. Ford, a medical officer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who led the review of waistline data from nearly 33,000 men and non-pregnant women older than age 20. “They still are increasing, especially in women.”
Men’s overall mean girth grew by 0.8 inches, to about 39.8 inches, and women’s rose by 1.5 inches, to 37.8 inches. Abdominal obesity is defined as a waist size greater than 40.2 inches for men and 34.6 inches for women.
But the gain was much larger between the first survey and the last for certain demographic groups. Experts with the CDC examined seven two-year cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, or NHANES, an ongoing government study. The new figures were published in a research letter in JAMA.
Waistlines of white women aged 40 to 49 grew by 2.6 inches during the time period, those of Mexican American men aged 20 to 29 expanded by 3.4 inches and the belt sizes of black women aged 30 to 39 climbed by 4.6 inches.