Men are not bigger than women; richer Americans are not thinner

Playing around with R (bleah) and NHANES data (a comprehensive survey of American health and socioeconomic situation; see also this exploration tool at Harvard Medical School), I got a few surprises…

American women actually have a slightly higher average BMI than men. Muscles are supposedly heavier than fat and men are supposedly more muscular, right? This theory is not supported by data. Given two random adults of the same height, the woman will actually be heavier.

One of our fellow residents (might not be a citizen) rang up a BMI of 120(!). Plenty of company in the 50-60 range…

There is almost no correlation between income and BMI. However, the correlation is in an unexpected direction. An increase in income of 6X seems to result in an increase in BMI of about 1. The rich are not thinner. (NHANES may not be a good sample for the truly rich).

9 thoughts on “Men are not bigger than women; richer Americans are not thinner

  1. Women after 20 gain more fat than men. The fat man with a thin wife is a stereotype that’s only true for men with much younger wives.

  2. Wow BMI of 120 made me jealous. I guess 800 lb of pure muscle? I am just striving for 25.
    It makes sense that richer people (chair-bound middle-aged daily commuters) are heavier than poor people (college students still engaged in athletics). My guess if study had significant sample from 1% especially those with inherited wealth their BMI would be found to be outstanding.

  3. Muscles are denser than fat and men have more muscle mass than women. These facts are known beyond any doubt whatsoever. The discrepancy with the data here must be resolved with women having a lot more fat than men.

  4. The single women are at least 2x heavier than men of the same height. Income & BMI depends on gender, whether the income is from a divorce. These are 99% social & 1 % biological phenomena.

  5. Your point about muscle mass sounds intuitive until you remember that the BMI formula isn’t based on a person’s volume.

  6. If he were to block financial remittances to the countries that are sources of illegal immigration it would have an immediate and devastating effect.

  7. BMI is divided by height (or similar). Men are taller. Still may be true that women weigh more these days on average though.

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