Is Wisconsin overweight or is my waist size really that unusual?

I was at Kohl’s a few days ago, “expecting great things,” and picking up a new belt for my upcoming interviews.  Like most male shopping, this was a straight forward purchase and my plan was to be in and out (that’s what she said).  After a quick browse of the belt racks I realized that Kohl’s had a pretty large selection of belts – if in fact you are overweight with a 40 inch waist.  I literally could not find a belt that fit my 30 inch waist (many of them could have almost wrapped around twice).  So I checked out the “boys” department.  Unfortunately, although they had my size, most of these belts either had flames or were studded (which would likely not impress any of my interviewers).  Questions began running through my head:

  • “Is Wisconsin really this morbidly obese?” – No, actually, I’ve looked into it.
  • “Do people with 30 inch waists wear belts?”
  • “Is my 30 inch waist size such an anomaly that Kohl’s has no reason to carry this size?”
  • “Should I stop at Qdoba on my way home from Kohl’s?” (this wasn’t related to my belt problem, but is always a very valid question).

Applying my Human Factors coursework, I set out to answer my questions through anthropometrics.  I remembered Professor Smith teaching me that the US Military has a lot of available data, so I turned to the 1991 Anthropometry of U.S. Military Personnel report (pages 454 & 455).  Their results are all in centimeters, but here’s how my 30 inch waist (≈76.2 centimeters) stacks up to the other men measured by the US government (I didn’t include the women because I am not one).


Statistical Values for Waist Circumference (Natural Indentation)
No. Series N Mean SE(M) S.D. SE(SD) V(%) Range
Min. Max. Total
1 US Army Men (1988) 1,774 83.99 0.18 7.40 0.12 8.80 64.7 112.2 47.5
2 USAF Flying Personnel (1950) 4,000 81.23 0.12 7.49 0.08 9.22 62.0 119.3 57.3
3 US Army Men (1946) 24,472 77.73 0.04 7.01 0.03 9.02 59.0 119.0 60.0


Percentile Values for Waist Circumference (Natural Indentation)
No. Series Percentiles in Centimeters – Median Range
1st 2nd 5th 10th 25th 50th 75th 90th 98th 99th (1st-99th)
1 US Army Men (1988) 69.9 71.1 73.0 74.9 78.6 83.4 88.8 94.0 100.6 102.9 32.9
2 USAF Flying Personnel (1950) 67.5 68.7 70.5 72.3 75.7 80.4 85.9 91.5 98.8 101.3 33.8
3 US Army Men (1946) 65.0 66.3 68.3 69.8 72.9 76.7 81.3 86.6 95.8 99.3 34.3
Waist Circumference Graph: Me vs. US Military Men
Waist Circumference Graph: Me vs. US Military Men

So what did I learn?  (1) Kohl’s seems uninterested in selling belts to customers with my very prevalent waist size and (2) my future belt purchases will be conducted elsewhere.  And if you were wondering, yes, I did stop at Qdoba on the way home with the hope that enough Qdoba will eventually move me into Kohl’s targeted waist size.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Jenni

    I feel your pain. Try being incredibly tall, skinny, and beautiful…not being able to find well-fitting clothes will lead my demise someday…

  2. rcv

    With a 28-29″ waist, it is just about impossible. I need a 30″ belt. One place. I have found them include the Men’s Warehouse. One good note: I wanted to by some underwear at Kohl’s, a couple years ago and they didn’t have anything smaller than a medium in boxers in the store. I wrote to them and complained. I’m not sure if there is any correlation, but, they now have a full assortment of small sized underwear at least.

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