According to a report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, American waistlines are still expanding despite a stagnation in BMI growth. Waistlines have grown by about an inch in the last decade to a circumference of approximately 39 inches.
The study examined 32,816 people over the age of 20 from 1999-2012 via the NIH Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Women’s waist averages overall increased by 1.5 inches to an average of 37.8 inches, with higher rates for African American and Hispanic women. Abdominal obesity is defined as a waist circumference over 34.6 inches for women.
Experts are unsure as to why waistlines continue to expand while BMI has stabilized, but suggest it could be due to an aging population. David Heber, director of UCLA Risk Factor for Obesity Clinic says,
As we age, heavy muscle is lost and we gain more fat.”
Health officials agree those with excess belly fat are more at risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, and diabetes. Researchers at the Center for Disease Control suggest other potential causes include sleep problems, certain medication, and a lack of exercise.
Read more here- “Belly Up: American Waistlines Are Still Expand, Study Finds,” (Megan Holohan, NBCNews)