Good God, Really?

So, I’m 6 foot tale and male. And back when I was fat I had a 37, 38 inch waist. Now that I’m slim (well, all these things are relative of course) my waist is 32, 33 inches.

OK, with me so far? And then this:

An average American woman over 20 years old has a 37.5-inch (95-centimeter) waist, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You what? When I as a 6 foot male was a chubby porker my waist was smaller than that of the average American woman?


27 thoughts on “Good God, Really?”

  1. Not really, no. Male waists tend to be larger than female, female hips larger than male. So by comparing my male waist to a female one I’m showing just how quite of whack that number is.

  2. Ah, but wait. “Over 20 years old” includes all ages, including those in later years who tend to be a bit fat.

  3. “Average woman over 20 years old” is a crappy category, though. We don’t really expect everyone to keep obsessing about keeping their figures as they get old, do we? That’s going to include all the women now too old and infirm to move.

  4. I’ve just looked at the data tables they used-

    -and they haven’t got data under 20 years by sex for some reason, just “persons”. I was hoping they had so that we could see what the average on a 20 (or rather 19) year old is. The mean for a 19 y/o “person of unspecified gender” is 85.4cm, which is 33.62 inches, which isn’t too much better frankly. But not quite so bad either.

  5. Come to think of, as people get older, their skin sags too, and this metric is waist circumference rather than weight, so it’s also going to include women who are not even overweight but who have a lot of spare folds of skin bulging out the measurement. That’s age for you.

    It’s the kind of stupid statistic I would expect a respected economics writer to spot a mile off.

  6. Well, if you know of a respected economics writer around here do introduce me. I’d love to meet one myself…..

  7. bloke (not) in spain

    Back to pointing this out again:
    Around 30% of Americans are black or hispanic. In both cultures, a bit of girth or even a great deal of girth in the female, particularly in later age, is perfectly normal & acceptable.Easily enough to skew the figures when comparing against a white male, moderately above average height.
    For less preening, compare with women of the same ethnicity & giving full (lack of) weight to the social X-rays

  8. Is it a matter of mean/median/mode. The staggeringly obese and merely obese are going to pull the mean up quite a bit. The underweight are statistically insignificant, and can’t deviate from the median that much.

  9. Oh puhleez, look who’s providing the stats.

    “the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention”

    The sample is obviously suitably randomised, unskewed and unbiased.

    But perhaps not…

    Their counterparts in the UK suggest that 6 foot economists who have recently starved themselves should weigh about 9 stone, so we can see where all this rotting bilge is coming from.

  10. @ Luke
    It may be true that the genuinely underweight are statistically insignificant but, if so, why is there so much fuss about anorexia and bulimia?
    It is also true that the underweight can only deviate from the mean or median by 99.9% but we are looking at all those slimmer/lighter than a mean with a waist bigger than my hips (despite my suffering from “middle-aged spread” – I was a lot slimmer when i was young Tim’s age) and weighing over 10% more at a mean 5’4″ than I do at 5’8″, let alone my average weight over the period since I was 20 (I have *never* weighed that much). Anyone who is a sane shape is going to pull down the mean.
    If the number who are less than 30% overweight is statistically insignificant then the USA has a frightening healthcare problem but less of a problem about pensions ‘cops lots of them are going to die relatively young of heart disease, diabetes, etc,

  11. @ Luke
    Yes, you are right to point out that we should be looking at the median rather than the mean. However it is difficult for me to envisage people who do not have a medical disorder generat6ing these statistics.
    My initial reaction was “I don’t believe this – when I was fit I had a 24″ waist including massive stomach muscles”. [I once told my father that I had done 100 “trunk curls” in the school gym in the lunch break to which his immediate response was that he had done 100 press-ups in the same gym 30-ish years earlier: like me just to prove to himself that he could.}
    I prefer not to visualise women with a 95cm waist, let alone the population for whom the average waist is larger than my hips.

  12. That’s the problem with statisticians. They automatically assume a normal distribution. In fact the distribution has a zero bound of about 21 ins, and a very fat tail.

  13. @ bif
    No, it’s not a problem with statisticians – it’s a problem with people who do *not* understand statistics trying to expropriate statistics to support their conclusions.
    I could go up in flames at ” They automatically assume a normal distribution.” No statistician would do that.
    Do you want to blame Cook and Pietersen for the corruption in FIFA? Much more reasonable: they are both international sportsmen

  14. Bloke in Germany in Taiwan

    @j77, we don’t much care about the distribution until we’re doing some hypothesis testing, and here there is as much a practical upper bound as a lower one. It’s probably near-normal enough to do standard stuff on should you wish to.

    @IanB, they’re letting the under-20s have a bit longer to make their minds up rather than assigning gender roles to them at such a young age.

  15. I’m considering pinning a world map to my wall so that by the use of colour coded markers I can keep track of the locations of our Bloke contingent.

  16. bloke (not) in spain

    For Ian’s convenience – on average, a point 14 km off the coast of Dunkerque. As far as I’m concerned, anywhere in Northern Europe is equally cold, wet & undesirable & defined as ‘Not in Spain’

  17. Having a few minutes to spare I’ve looked at the data table which CDC does provide. Non-hispanic white women 20-39 have a *median* waist size of 34.3″ (any other categories are worse), so only marginally fatter than a middle-aged Tim; three-quarters of them and 90% of women of all ages in other categories have waist sizes larger than a late-middle-aged John with a spare tyre.
    Just shows that Malthus was wrong – there is more than enough food – we just need to ship it from the USA to Africa.

  18. Hey, Tim.

    > Well, if you know of a respected economics writer around here do introduce me.

    How about “despised”? Would that do?

    Anyway, I think it was you who pointed out that, in the UK, on average, black women earn more than white women.

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