TOO BIG TO BOAT: expanding waistlines threaten to capsize vacations

We may no longer need to snap another goofy passport photograph.  The snazzy red fannypacks can remain in the darkest recesses of our closets, next to the chic parachute pants and crocs.  We can now return the trendy new swim trunks, swim fins and snorkels.  It’s time to disappoint our children.

Our holiday cruise has been cancelled, because America has become too fat.

Alright, fine, that last statement may be a little extreme… but…

Safety regulations establish the legal number of passengers that can be carried by many passenger vessels and other boats.  The number of passengers is typically calculated through a formula based upon the average weight per passenger, which the regulations refer to as the Assumed Average Weight Per Person or AAWPP.  Over fifty years ago, the AAWPP was set at 160lbs.

The rise of the fast food industry and a gradual shift to more sedentary lifestyles has resulted in a fairly significant increase in the average weight of Americans since the AAWPP was set at 160lbs.  Our rates of obesity have doubled over the past several decades, and now one in three adults and nearly one in five children and adolescents are clinically obese.  Obesity carries a number of risks, and these risks apparently include the threat of capsizing a boat.

The United States Coast Guard has recognized the.. er… growing trend and increased the AAWPP from 160lbs to 185lbs.  The new rule became effective on December 1, 2011, and applies to ferries, sightseeing boats and American-flagged international cruise ships.  These passenger vessels will now likely need to reduce the number of passengers that are carried at any given time.

So… our holiday vacations have been cancelled because there’s no longer room for our families on the cruises.  At least we’ll now have time to sit back, relax, and celebrate the expansive beauty of January’s finest holidays: National Whipped Cream Day, National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day, and National Cream Puff Day.

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