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Obese Americans could sink ships
Average American weight
Americans are becoming so fat the U.S. Coast Guard has had to raise the official definition of “average weight per passenger” from 140 pounds to 185 pounds to protect against the possible overloading of seagoing vessels.
The new definition of 185 pounds per person will go into effect on December 1, 2011. That means that in order to comply with Coast Guard weight limitations, a ship owner will either have to reduce the total number of passengers it carries or reduce the total weight of the cargo it hauls, or both.
“Although this final rule establishes an [Assumed Average Weight Per Person] greater than the minimum international requirements, the higher AAWPP used in loading calculations is necessary for safety reasons because the AAWPP more closely approximates the actual average American weight,” explains a Federal Register notice published by the Coast Guard last December.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the average weight of Americans is actually 187 pounds, not 185, but the Coast Guard has determined that it doesn’t want to further delay the implementation of its new weight limitations for that measly two-pound difference. The new rules will be revised again when the average weight of an American increases by another 10 pounds, but the Coast Guard notice doesn’t predict by when that will have occurred.
In 1990, the International Maritime Organization assumed the average weight of a seagoing passenger from any country was 165 pounds, but that figure was eclipsed years ago in the U.S., thanks to American eating and fitness habits. Earlier versions of the Coast Guard’s weight limitation rules used what it now calls “the obsolete assumed weight of 140 lb.”