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10 Signs of Weight Gain

Updated on January 13, 2013
The broadening waistlines of Americans are necessitating some changes in the real world.
The broadening waistlines of Americans are necessitating some changes in the real world. | Source

Vanity sizing—also known as size inflation—refers to the practice of making clothes of a nominal size larger over the years. For example, a woman who used to wear a size 12 might now fit into a size 10 or even a size 8. This practice is used as a marketing tool to help customers feel better about themselves.

While vanity sizing might work in the fashion industry, the real world isn’t always so accommodating of our broadening waistlines. Here are 10 real-world signs that we’ve gained a few extra pounds over the years:

1. Ferries: In 2011, the Washington state ferry system reduced the passenger capacity of its ferries in response to Coast Guard stability rules raising the estimated weight of the average adult from 160 to 185 pounds. A ferry which used to carry up to 2000 passengers now carries only 1750.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

BMI is a proxy for human body fat based on a person's weight and height.

BMI = (Mass (lb) / Height (in)²) x 703


2. Ambulances: Boston spent $12,000 to retrofit each of its ambulances to handle larger patients. The stretchers used by those ambulances cost $8,000 each and can handle up to 850 pounds. Fort Worth spent $7,000 to retrofit each of its ambulances, and bought stretchers with a weight limit of 650 pounds to replace older stretchers with a limit of only 500 pounds.

3. Weight Scales: Siltec Scales has found a new market for its line of industrial and shipping scales: personal users who need a weight scale with a capacity above 350 pounds. For example, Siltec’s PS500L scale provides accurate measurements in 0.5 pound increments up to 500 pounds.

4. Elevators: In 2010, Mitsubishi installed a gigantic elevator in Osaka, Japan with a capacity of 80 Japanese passengers. If, however, this elevator were to be installed in the United States, it could safely accommodate only 65 American passengers with its capacity of 11,574 pounds.

5. Buses: The Federal Transit Administration has proposed new bus testing regulations to more accurately reflect today’s passengers. The proposals reflect an increase in average weight from 150 to 175 pounds; an increase in average floor space occupied by a standing passenger from 1.5 to 1.75 square feet, and updated methods to test bus structural strength and stability.

6. Car Seats: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is aware of its need to develop a lifelike crash test dummy for use in testing car seats for children weighing more than 65 pounds. Car seat manufacturers are now marketing harnesses for children weighing up to 85 pounds.

7. Airlines: If a Southwest Airlines staff member determines a passenger will not fit in one seat, the passenger will need to purchase a second seat, but will receive a refund if the flight is not full. The airline uses the armrests for its 17-inch wide seats to gauge this need. Per Southwest: “Customers who are unable to lower both armrests and/or who encroach upon any portion of the adjacent seat should proactively book the number of seats needed prior to travel.”

8. Hospitals: Hospitals are increasing their purchases of medical devices and equipment to service their obese patients. Hospital tables capable of supporting patients up to 600 pounds patient cost up to $30,000, while tables for patients up to 1000 pounds cost up to $45,000. Other plus-sized purchases include hospital beds, wheelchairs, stretchers, walkers and blood-pressure cuffs.

9. Lethal Injection: The state of Ohio may need a new way to execute its prisoners on death row. An inmate scheduled to be executed by lethal injection has asked a federal judge to delay his execution because, at a weight of over 480 pounds, his executioners may find it too difficult to inject the single dose of pentobarbital into his arms, as called for by Ohio’s death penalty law.

10. Furniture: The market for bariatric furniture is currently estimated at $400 million, and is expected to grow rapidly. Bariatric weight load is typically between 500 and 700 pounds, although customers can find furniture rated for loads of over 1000 pounds. Because this furniture tends to be expensive due to the structural demands but is not covered by insurance, manufacturers often target customers aged 40 to 59, with a BMI over 30, and an income of at least $50,000.

Statistics from the American Heart Association

Sobering facts from the American Heart Association's 2012 Statistical Fact Sheet:


149.3 million Americans age 20 or older are overweight or obese (BMI of 25 and higher).

Of these American adults, 75.0 million are obese (BMI of 30 and higher).


About 1 in 3 children ages 2 through 19 are overweight or obese (BMI-for-age at or above 85 percentile of the 2000 CDC growth charts).

About 1 in 6 children ages 2 through 19 are obese (BMI-for-age at or above 95th percentile of the 2000 CDC growth charts).


Total healthcare costs due to obesity could reach $861 to $957 billion by 2030 if current trends continue. This would represent 16% - 18% of total US healthcare expenditures.

Total excess costs attributable to childhood obesity and overweight is an estimated $254 billion.


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    • tipstoretireearly profile image

      tipstoretireearly 5 years ago from New York

      Wonderful that you've stayed the same size your entire adult life. The same is true for me. As I get older, I find it'd be easier and easier to add some pounds, but long-term health is too important to let that happen. Thanks for stopping by.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

      I have to say it bothers me about all this enlargened designs. It seems to me that this is one of those things we can all control. Eat healthy and carefully and you will at least be acceptable weight for your height. I am bragging here but I have been the same size my entire adult life...And weight a few pounds more as as you age the face gets hit the hardest. Why should obesity be rewarded??? Great hub and voting up and sharing.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 5 years ago from California Gold Country

      Eye opening summary of the problems created by this epidemic. The health problems are bad enough by themselves, and we sometimes say it is an individual personal problem and none of our business. Your statistics show that it is having a huge economic impact on everyone.

      By the way-- the bikinis in the first photo should be illegal for those ladies. Sorry, if that sounds mean-spirited, but they are not really flattering, and are doing them no favors.

    • John MacNab profile image

      John MacNab 5 years ago from the banks of the St. Lawrence

      Just north of you in Ontario, the obesity is similar. It's quite frightening to see pre-teens having to struggle to sit down or walk. I hadn't considered how the obesity would affect ferries and airlines. Very interesting, voted up.

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 5 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Do you think we should put similar limits that exist on WIC (limiting it to healthy items like peas, peanut butter, milk and vegetables) to SNAP/food stamps? This would force the diets of many people who are currently receiving tax payer money for food expenditures to eat more healthily.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 5 years ago from UK

      I agree with Danette this was interesting and sad. I think the UK figures for obesity are very similar. It's particularly sad when children are obese, because it's storing up health issues for when they are older. Successive governments try to encourage more exercise in schools but I'm not sure how well they succeed. And then of course, we have Jamie Oliver who tried very hard to change school meals, but parents sneaked unhealthy food to their kids.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 5 years ago from Illinois

      Interesting hub and sad too. For many reasons (for example lack of access to quality food, lack of willpower) Americans are getting fatter. My husband and I went to an Italian Fest last night and I commented to him about how many overweight looking people were there. Voted up and interesting.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 5 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      An interesting, but not surprising, set of stats. Anyone that has flown in the past decade knows very well that Americans are getting larger all the time.

    • sgiguere profile image

      Stephanie Giguere 5 years ago from Marlborough MA

      So the American free market is adjusting to its new size... I wonder if we are making similar social adjustments...

      Great Hub!

    • GiblinGirl profile image

      GiblinGirl 5 years ago from New Jersey

      Wow - interesting and kinda sad at the same time.

    • Bobski606 profile image

      Bobby 5 years ago from U.K

      Wow, I knew that we were getting bigger as a society and I've heard stories of very large people but I had no idea that all these adjustments have been going on. This is a great hub, voted up!

    • ESPeck1919 profile image

      ESPeck1919 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Very interesting hub. I'd heard about the airline news quite a while ago. I also seem to dimly remember at least one airline looking at installing wider seats, but don't quote me on that.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 5 years ago

      Fascinating hub with great info! I just read something about that lethal injection example.

    • profile image

      Justsilvie 5 years ago

      Interesting and well done hub!

      I do think the airlines are using the weight gain as a money making gimmick since it really is not just the size of your butt but your shoulder width that should be considered. So that means that every trim waisted broad shouldered person should also have to pay for an extra seat, but to date they seem to only pick on the chubbies and the rest get away with sharing part of mine.

    • cfin profile image

      cfin 5 years ago from The World we live in

      Very good points made. voted up and shared.

    • nanderson500 profile image

      nanderson500 5 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Very interesting. I hadn't heard of these statistics before. Voted up, interesting, and shared.

    • profile image

      Mtbailz 5 years ago

      Sweet hub.

    • roxanne459 profile image

      Roxanne Lewis 5 years ago from Washington

      Sobering and enlightning! I'm definitely voting up and sharing

    • howlermunkey profile image

      Jeff Boettner 5 years ago from Tampa, FL

      Wow, very interesting hub! Agreed with billybuc, great idea. I've heard over and over agin on the news etc that our society as a whole is gaining weight, but never heard the facts like you just presented. Up, interesting and sharing. PS - I'm starting my diet tomorrow.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      What an interesting idea for a hub! Very cool premise and well-researched.