FIT AND TRIM THE 1950’s WAY

Why Women In The 1950’s Were Slimmer and Healthier

A FEW STATISTICS

According to the CDC the average American woman now weighs as much as the average man did in 1960. Both sexes have gained almost an inch in height but that doesn’t begin to account for the 18.5% gain that women have experienced. Men are now 17.6% heavier so they haven’t escaped this problem, either.

And those tiny waists of the ’50s? They were an average of six inches smaller than that of today’s woman. If you happen to like vintage fashions you’ve likely noticed this.

Approximately 10% of the American population was classified as obese in the 1950s. The current rate is over 35%.

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

There’s a difference between causation and correlation. Just because two things occur together doesn’t necessarily mean one caused the other. I was the only one in my nursing class who actually enjoyed our nursing research and statistics courses so I won’t bore you with a lengthy discussion about this. Just keep in mind that the things I’m about to list here may or may not have actually caused the spike in obesity since the ’50s. However, I do think they are worth considering.

  1. While fast food meals were a rare treat in the 1950s, today approximately 20% of American meals are eaten in the car.
  2. Portion sizes have increased.
  3. The average calorie intake has increased by 300-400 calories per day.
  4. Sugar intake has increased nearly 40%.
  5. More meat; fewer eggs.
  6. Less milk; more cheese.
  7. More time spent watching television.
  8. Less time spent doing housework.

THE TYPICAL 1950S AMERICAN WOMAN – DIET AND EXERCISE

So what does it all mean? Well, in purely biological terms, weight gain is a result of consuming more calories than one expends in daily activity. Sure, there are other factors than can influence one’s weight but for the purposes of this discussion, the average American woman in the 1950s was slimmer because she ate less and burned more calories in her daily activities.

No, she wasn’t hitting the gym. Even Jack LaLanne‘s exercise television program wasn’t nationally syndicated until 1959.


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