The average height for women in the United States is about 5 foot 4 inches (or about 63.7 inches) tall. The average height has increased over time.

As of 2016, the average height for American women 20 years old and up is just under 5 foot 4 inches (about 63.7 inches) tall. The average weight is 170.6 pounds.

Body size and shape have changed over the years. Back in the 1960s, the average woman between 20 to 74 years old stood 63.1 inches tall and weighed approximately 140.2 pounds.

Height is increasing at a slower rate than weight is increasing. Read on to learn why this is happening and what you can do to keep yourself in the healthy range.

Did you know?

The average height for an American man 20 years old and up is just over 5 foot 9 inches (about 69.1 inches) tall. The average weight is 197.9 pounds.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average height has increased only very slightly since the 1960s. On the other hand, weight has increased significantly in the last 60 years.

Research from 2016 shows that potential height is related to the quality of nutrition in infancy and childhood. This study even links a population’s height to its standard of living.

So why is growth for Americans slowing down? Some say it indicates issues with access to food or maybe choosing lower quality foods that don’t have enough nutrients.

In an interview with National Public Radio, Majid Ezzati, the chair of Global Environmental Health at Imperial College London, suggests that the immigration of people from countries with shorter stature may also have some impact on the average.

Growth rates haven’t slowed in all parts of the world. In fact, some countries, such as South Korea, are experiencing quite a growth spurt. According to research, women in South Korea have gained an average of just under eight inches over the past century.

As of 1996, Guatemala had the lowest average height for women at 58.8 inches, or just under 4 feet 11 inches. It’s followed closely by the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Nepal, where women’s heights averaged around 59.4 inches.

The tallest women, on the other hand, can be found in Latvia, the Netherlands, Estonia, and the Czech Republic. In these countries, the average height was just over 66 inches, or around 5 feet 6 inches.

As of 2016, the average body mass index (BMI) for American women is 29.6, which is considered overweight. In 1999, the average BMI was 28.2.

How do you calculate your BMI? There are different formulas to calculate BMI for adults and children.

The ranges are as follow:

  • Underweight: anything under 18.5
  • Healthy: anything between 18.5 and 24.9
  • Overweight: anything between 25 and 29.9
  • Obese: anything above 30

BMI is a good guideline, but it isn’t always accurate for all people and should not be your only measure of health. One limitation of BMI is that it doesn’t consider where fat is stored on the body.

Women who engage in high amounts of physical activity, like athletes, may weigh more due to higher muscle mass and may have an overestimated BMI. Older women tend to store more body fat than younger women and may have an underestimated BMI based on the standard formula.

If you’re concerned about your weight or BMI, consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss the full picture of your health.

Regardless of where you land on the charts, the relationship between height and weight is an important one. Scientists explain that a person’s height can be related to anything from potential longevity to a lower risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.

More weight on the same size frame can lead to a number of health issues, including:

Not only that, but a larger waistline may also lead to:

Fertility and pregnancy

Women who are either underweight or overweight may also experience more issues during pregnancy.

Being underweight increases the risk of having a baby with a low birth weight. Risks for women with higher BMIs include gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and high blood pressure.

Gaining too much weight during pregnancy may also have long-lasting effects for both mother and baby. Being overweight or underweight can affect fertility, making it more difficult to get and stay pregnant.

Diet is one reason American women have gained more pounds than inches. The availability of processed foods and fast food has increased over time, and losing weight can be an exercise in moderation.

If you’ve tried losing weight without success in the past, don’t give up. Talk to your doctor about creating a weight loss plan that will fit into your lifestyle. Here are some good places to start:

Focus on whole foods

When you shop, go for the foods that line the grocery store’s perimeter versus the packaged foods in the center aisles. Look for:

Drink more water

Yes, staying hydrated may help you lose more weight. Different studies have shown that drinking water can do anything from helping you burn more calories to reducing your appetite.

How much is enough? Although each individual’s needs may vary, women should aim to get 11.5 cups of fluids per day.

Move your body more

Women should try getting 150 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity each week, according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Moderate activities include walking, yoga, and gardening. Vigorous activities include sports such as running and cycling.

Keep a food diary

If you’re having trouble pinpointing weak spots in your diet, try keeping a food diary.

Record everything you put into your body, including glasses of water. You may even want to write down how you’re feeling when you eat particular things, like desserts, or when you mindlessly munch, like while watching television.

A food diary can help you spot patterns and stop bad habits. You can also share this information with your doctor.

Seek support

Don’t forget the emotional side of things. Food and diet involve a whole lot more than just eating. For support, consider reaching out to groups like Overeaters Anonymous. Meetings are anonymous and may be helpful for people dealing with eating disorders such as:

You may not be able to do much about your height as an adult woman, but you can work toward attaining a healthy BMI.

Remember, however, that your BMI may not necessarily be the most reliable indicator of your health. Your doctor can help provide you with more personalized information, as well as help you create an eating and exercise plan if needed.

Don’t forget to eat plenty of healthy, whole foods, stay hydrated, and get physical activity to keep yourself running strong.