Celebrating the end of the gluttony season, but the effects linger

The Washington State Ferry system has reduced the rated carrying capacity of its fleet because people have gotten fatter: The average weight of an adult passenger has been officially revised from 160 pounds to 185 pounds. (That's from 11 stone 6 to 13 stone 3 in the UK, or from 73kg to 84kg for the rest of the world.)

This has happened before: In 1999, the rated capacity of Washington State ferries dropped when the previous method for determining seating density was abandoned due to passengers' big butts. (I recall that The Seattle Times printed a ruler next to the article so that for readers could assess their own situation.)

In other news: Many hospitals, such as our own University of Washington Medical Center, have installed ceiling lifts in all their rooms due to the high number of obese patients.

(The gluttony seasons begins on Hallowe'en and ends on Christmas, as officially declared by me.)

Comments (11)
  1. Anonymous Coward says:

    Gluttony Season isn't over quite yet: there's still the N-course Old Year's Meal, the night of dumplings and fireworks, and the New Year's Breakfast to conquer. If you're having any Good Intentions in this direction, wait for the new year to come.

  2. alegr1 says:

    In America, the Gluttony Season never ends.

  3. Gabe says:

    For those who didn't read the article, it looks like what happened is the Coast Guard changed the definition of a "person". The ferry service, faced with getting recertified with the new definition, just changed the number of people they're willing to sell tickets to in order to avoid going over the weight they were previously certified for.

    Of course, these are car ferries, so they rarely fill up on passengers before they fill up on cars. It's almost hard to imagine how people could have any measurable effect on the floatation of a vessel that's carrying so many cars. The end result is that it will likely not have any noticeable change to the ferry service.

  4. Anonymous coward says:

    Isn't this a ferry tale ?

  5. Ivan K says:

    I dunno. I imagine an average 25lb increase per person could affect weight and balance depending on the ship and where on it people are allowed to congregate. But then again the average american vehicle weight (including stuff people carry around in their cars) may fluctuate up and down too – my suspicion with no proof is a general trend upwards over the past decade.

  6. JamesNT says:

    And people wonder why healthcare is so expensive.


  7. Joshua says:

    I would suppose they could do it the old fashioned way. The ship is certified for x tons displacement (x is usually in hundreds), measured by displacement while loading, using the Plimsoll line on the side of the ship to measure.

  8. cron22 says:

    That's hilarious.  Though it doesn't surprise me at all.  I hate to say it, but as much as I love my country, the gluttony season doesn't end in America.  

  9. Cesar says:

    The average weight of a person is serious business.

    For an example where the estimated average weight (140 pounds) being less than the actual average weight (168 pounds) was a factor in a serious accident, see the NTSB report for the Lady D accident: http://www.ntsb.gov/…/MAR0601.htm

  10. Cesar says:

    Sorry for the double post, but I thought this footnote from that NTSB report is so relevant to this blog post that it should be quoted in full:

    "From interviews and hospital records, the Safety Board determined that the average weight of the

    children was 55 pounds and the average weight of the adults was 184 pounds, which equated to an average

    occupant weight of 168.4 pounds."

    And now the new average is 185 pounds… It would not surprise me if that change came from the conclusions of this NTSB report.

  11. Danny says:

    Season?! Get serious, there is no such thing as "season" regarding gluttony in America. It's the normal state at all times.

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