I hate New Year’s resolutions. I like the idea of starting fresh, having goals, plans and renewed energy, but the cliché focus on resolutions is tired, in my opinion. Yet, when I read this quote from Jay Leno, it got me thinking…
“Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average…which means, you have met your New Year’s resolution.”
As Americans waistlines expand, there are so many ripple effects. From healthcare to clothing, design considerations to travel safety, more personal bulk means changing laws, rules and preconceived notions. I have heard sad tales of folks unable to squeeze into rides at Amusement Parks, being banned from bungee jumping, even forced to purchase two plane tickets because of size. That doesn’t even take into account self limitations because of shame or inability to maneuver. But, what about weight limits for boats, buses and other vehicles? More and more, places and companies are upping the average weight limit per person.
In the mid-twentieth century, 160 pounds was allotted per person, taking into account the portly and stocky, and on the flip side, children and the svelte. Fast forward to 2012 and the average American weighs 185 pounds. This has huge repercussions for everything from city buses and ferries, to small private fishing boat operators. According to a story in the New York Times today, the fleet of Washington state ferries are reducing the number of passengers allowed on each boat. Private vessel operators are also looking at reduced revenue because of Coast Guard rules that are popping up around the country. Even the Circle Line in NYC has been affected, although they prefer smaller loads to offer more comfort and ease of movement.
Many newly-designed public space seats are “banquettes” without arm rests to accommodate the larger backsides. Certainly the tiny divets, for bottoms are being rethought on many mass transit upgrades. This is not isolated to the U.S., as countries around the globe struggle with fat stigma and the consequences of the global obesity epidemic.
No one is actually suggesting weighing passengers, but it’s certainly food for thought as we all take stock of what we ate over the holidays and consider our New Year’s resolutions to slim down.