Policy-ish

Bulging Waistlines Lead Coast Guard To Lower Passenger Limits

These guys probably bring down the weight average. i i

hide captionThese guys probably bring down the weight average.

Stephen Martin/Flickr
These guys probably bring down the weight average.

These guys probably bring down the weight average.

Stephen Martin/Flickr

Let's just get this sad fact out of the way: Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese.

You knew that, I'd guess. We've written about the fattening of America, and its health consequences, again and again.

But if the whole thing seems a little abstract, consider this: Fewer us can fit on boats now. The Coast Guard is raising its assumption of how much the average American weighs to 185 pounds, up 9 16 percent from the current benchmark of 160 pounds.

The "Assumed Average Weight per Person" is defined by regulation, believe it or not, and is used to calculate the maximum capacity of all sorts of commercial passenger vessels. You don't want a boat to get top heavy by letting on too many passengers who weigh too much. Soon many boats won't be allowed to carry as many people as they used to.

A boat rated for a 16,000-pound capacity would be allowed to carry 86 people under the new rule, compared with 100 that are OK under the current standard, the Associated Press reports. The new rule doesn't apply to people's recreational boats, a Coast Guard representative told Shots.

As the Coast Guard pointed out late last year, the safety regulation needs to be updated "to more accurately reflect today's average weight per person." The change takes effect Dec. 1. For a more digestible version of the rule and what it means for boat owners, the Coast Guard has this two-page fact sheet and a Q&A.

Some captains say it's no big deal. Captain Mike Eller of the charter boat Lady Em in Destin, Fla., told the local newspaper The Log that the lower weight limit wouldn't change much for boats around there. Still, Eller said, the change was overdue, "We have seen some ridiculous things in the past, but we are not thinking that this is going to affect us much overall."

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