Published: Apr 04, 2011 12:25 PM EDT
Updated: Apr 04, 2011 9:25 AM EDT

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) - Americans' bulging waistlines have pushed the Coast Guard to increase its figure for how much an average passenger weighs.
 
That number is used to calculate occupancy rates. For example, a boat with a 16,000-pound capacity could handle 100 passengers under the current 160-pound standard weight. But starting Dec. 1, the average weight per person is jumping to 185 pounds. That same vessel would be limited to carrying 86 people.
 
It's the first change in the figure since the early 1960s. Coast Guard spokeswoman Lisa Novak said simply: "People weigh significantly more now." Roughly a third of American adults are overweight, according to government statistics.
 
The measure doesn't apply to recreational boaters but will affect ferries and excursion boats.