Want to know the real reason Americans are gaining weight? Never mind all the theories about inactivity, portion size, corn syrup consumption and growth hormones; it’s all about living space. Just as goldfish grow when transferred to a larger bowl, Americans are expanding to fit their homes.
Consider these numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the 1960s and 70s, we gained weight relatively slowly. But from the 1980s on, the average weight rose dramatically:
Average of US Males, in Pounds
1960: 166 (average height 68 inches)
Now: 191 (average height 69.5 inches)
You can see a similar pattern in US Census housing data:
Average New Home Size, in Square Feet
Not convinced? Consider the folks who live in relatively small spaces: prison camp inmates, soldiers, New Yorkers. They are relatively slim.
There is one anomaly that threatens to disprove my theory: the poor. Goldfish Syndrome would predict fashionably slim folks inhabiting trailer parks, and 300-pound multi-millionaires rolling about in 20,000 square foot McMansions. Instead, we get the opposite. Perhaps this is a function of kitchen proximity. When you are so rich that the kitchen is located in another zip code, a larger home actually becomes a weight loss advantage.