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1980s definatly, and back..Why were people more fit, toned and healthy Looking?

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  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
    edited February 2021
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    lemurcat2 wrote: »
    I sign on to what snowflake and Ann said, among others, but to elaborate:
    I've been thinking about this post and why is it that we continue to get fatter as a country (and other countries as well), despite not only knowing more than ever about health, weight loss and exercise, but in general having a lot more access to these resources as well.

    I don't think people ate "healthier" foods back in the 80's and before then more so than now, as what was considered healthy has changed over the years (and continues to change). People were just as weight/image conscious in the past (if not more so), so obsession with how we look and how big or small we are is nothing new. However, I think 1. Portion sizes have grown over the years; 2.Access to foods, especially convenience foods and take-out/fast food has increased dramatically; 3. Snacking, and especially mindless snacking seems to have grown (although I definitely remember having snacks regularly as a kid in the 80's and 4. Way more stationary activities take up our time, like TV (so many ways/things to watch now), computer and video games and 5. Driving to more places as the suburban sprawl continues to happen.

    Access to delivery has likely changed, and a lot more restaurants (with a much higher variety of food) do take-out, but I doubt "access" has changed for most people. Fast food was certainly completely accessible from what I recall of my childhood (I was 10 in 1980). Convenience foods were also incredibly accessible, as were snack and dessert type foods, although the variety of those was likely much less (although also there were fewer lower cal options) and across the board I would agree that portion sizes were smaller.

    When I was a kid we had fast food (which was seen as mostly for kids in my memory) rarely, as a special treat. The kids meals were not yet including the fruit instead of fries options, though. We didn't have soda at home (my mom had diet soda, but the kids weren't given soda as a regular drink--it was rare, like if we went out to eat or to McD's). Going to other types of restaurants was mostly something my parents did, although occasionally we'd go out to a kid appropriate place as a family. When my parents went out we'd get to have TV dinners, but this was also much rarer than I think people tend to go out today.

    Regular meals may well have included some convenience foods (I hated cold cereal, but it was a common breakfast), and my mom would use canned veg and stuff like that, and canned soup was something we'd have for lunch, but dinners were normally meat, veg, and a starch (corn and potatoes were a starch, not a veg), and was generally largely homecooked from scratch. We had snacks after school, but that was about it, and we didn't have a bunch of candy or dessert type foods around the house -- we'd sometimes have cookies if my mom made them, and my dad likely Jell-O puddings for after dinner dessert.

    I get the impression that on average (although obv not the case for all, most of the parents I know are likely more health knowledgeable and conscious than my parents, and also have lots more access to a wide variety of healthy foods, but that's a combination of changing food culture and that I didn't grow up in a big city and live in one now), people cook less these days and know less about cooking. My mom didn't really like cooking that much, but did so regularly, and my sister and I would sometimes cook with her and were encouraged to cook. (My mom also had a full time job from the time I was 8 and my sister 3.) So when I was an adult, that pattern of eating which was basically healthy (although could certainly be too many cals) seemed natural to me. From stats about veg eating in the US and simply some of the comments we get from newbies on MFP, I don't think that's as common now.

    TV was watched plenty from what I recall, and cable came in by the mid 80s, but yes, we didn't have computer stuff like now (even computer games were extremely rudimentary and likely much less common). We would play outdoors, but I suspect that too is widely varying now based on location and parents. Little kids are likely less likely to be told to just go out and play where I am now (city), but in the 'burbs or more rural areas I think they may be, and even where I am now I see my neighbors kids biking around and playing very actively in the yard -- it's been interesting to see what they have done during the shut down, and they also endlessly get balls in my yard, although not so much now when it's super cold. I also see lots of organized kids sporting activities and know from friends that many kids participate in them, and that starts with places for active play when kids are little. So again, I think it varies a lot, but not that kids are inherently more sedentary now. (I would sit and read endlessly as a kid and yet was not fat.)

    Regular life probably requires less activity now, but again that seems to vary by place. My parents both exercised by choice (my dad was into running and biking, my mom liked to walk and do any kind of dancing related exercise and aerobics), but on average I think that's likely even more popular (not aerobics, but exercising by choice) now in some ways. My parents also both drove to work and I took a bus that required only a short walk. Now I walk much farther than any of us did (or did pre coronavirus) to do errands and, especially, to commute, but I realize most parts of the US then and now are car-focused.

    The biggest differences I see are (1) portions, (2) more choice/better tasting convenience options, (3) more of a culture of just snacking all day or thinking that's necessary or simple mindless eating since food is always aaround, and (4) fewer people being comfortable cooking or having a routine of having meals that are overall nutritious (i.e., that not having a veg should be a rare thing, not that vegetables are optional). But of course that's all biased by my own personal experiences and observances.

    I think another thing that may or not contribute is that more women work outside of the home, and therefore families may be eating more takeout or quick meals out of convenience.

    I'm not so sure, as as I said my mom worked full time from when I was 8 and my sister 3 (1978). Most of my neighbors (whose kids are active and not overweight) work full time and yet are more nutrition conscious and foodie than my mom was--and they are in a bigger city with a food culture and better off class-wise, and more educated. I think there's more to it than women working.

    I have 2 young kids, 9 and 11, and I know that even though organized sports are WAY more popular than when I was a kid in the 80's (as in there are more options and practices are more frequent), I think overall kids are more sedentary outside of those activities. Video games and social media are huge, especially as they get into the pre-teen and teenage years. Video games are just so much more graphically better than they used to be, so more enticing. Also, there are lot more options for not only what to watch on TV but WHERE to watch it.

    Yes, I think this is possible, although as noted I was way more into reading than running around outside as a kid and yet was not overweight.
    I grew up in family where meals were like yours--my mom cooked every night (she didn't work outside the home), and it was a treat to get fast food for a family of 6. Even though we lived in the suburb of a mid-large size city, there was only a McDonald's nearby. Now by my parent's old house there are probably at least 15 fast food/convenience food options!

    This is not consistent with what I see. We had McD's and BK in walking distance, and a Wendy's between my parents work and my home, as well as various other fast food (I liked Long John Silvers the best as a kid). In a big city now I have a McD's within walking distance and others in an easy drive but normally drive way less (and a lower percentage of the population here has a car). I don't think less access to fast food in the '80s is really a thing in most of the country, it seems pretty similar to me.

    Anecdotally, the difference I see is that when I went to McDonald's as a kid, it was for an actual planned meal. It seems more common now to just get food because you just want it, not necessarily as part of a meal.

    That's interesting, and as it is something I've never really noticed people doing (well, not fast food, like a burger and/or fries, which I'm a little surprised people would eat between meals, but I believe it -- definitely snacks, however, like a high cal latte or a cookie or something, at a Starbucks or the like, or a bagel in the breakroom in the morning or a bag of chips from a stash kept in the office kitchen or some such). I didn't think of that in relation to the FF thing, but I bet you are right. I wonder if that's why fast food may seem to some to have been less accessible in the olden days ('80s).

    (IME, we didn't not eat out more than we did because it wasn't accessible, but because we kids had no choice and my parents had ideas about how often was appropriate, and I think for a higher percentage of the population eating it a lot more often is normalized now. I also think, of course, that if you were a kid at one time and an adult now, then everything is of course more accessible, but that's not because the '80s were somehow lacking for fast convenient foods.)
    There's no real barrier against adding extra meals to the day. If you have breakfast and you go to work and there's breakfast there, you eat it. If you eat lunch and later there's pizza in the break room, you eat it. If you're hungry on the way home from work, you might swing by Taco Bell before dinner.

    It's the normalization of all day hunger and all day eating.

    I'm sure there were people doing this in the 80s too, but I get the sense that it's all much more normal now.

    I strongly agree with this.
  • ndj1979
    ndj1979 Posts: 29,148 Member
    edited February 2021
    it was all this..

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  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,038 Member
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    I'm old enough to have been adult in the 1980s (even the 1970s, actually): Good grief. No. "People" were not "taut & toned". That's the movies. On average people were thinner, certainly, but "toned" women (in real life) were probably less muscular than nowadays, and probably being "fit" in any rational definition was less common amongst the general population of women compared to now, besides. Most women in the 1980s were not "toned" or fit.
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    I'm old enough to have been adult in the 1980s (even the 1970s, actually): Good grief. No. "People" were not "taut & toned". That's the movies. On average people were thinner, certainly, but "toned" women (in real life) were probably less muscular than nowadays, and probably being "fit" in any rational definition was less common amongst the general population of women compared to now, besides. Most women in the 1980s were not "toned" or fit.

    I stated
    "Healthy weighted,portioned, fit bodies"
    Not saying everyone was" fit", but I observed for the most part, people appeared, average, healthy weight, in general, in real footage clips ect..and in older stuff just kinda seems like people weren't really as Obese ..idk
    ALSO
    -Im aware of the aerobics trend in the 1980s, that's where I notice alot of taught tone bodies" in older 80s footage; People are saying drugs, but weren't the drugs illegal? Were most and/or "regular "people taking drugs too?
    We still had physical fitness classes that were mandatory in schools. Fast food most of the time were treats and not regular daily meals. Less commuting (people love to eat in their cars for 1+ commutes). Many still had some physical aspect that they had to do at their jobs. And last................portions were smaller than today.

    I'm thinking now that many countries think that Americans are rich because being fat in other countries is a sign of having money. Lol and with 65% of our country overweight or obese, they likely think we're loaded.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png

  • ninerbuff
    ninerbuff Posts: 46,038 Member
    Incidentally Aerobicize only came on at night on Showtime because it was considered a little to "sexual" to show on Primetime TV. Go to 5:00 mark.



    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png
  • ythannah
    ythannah Posts: 4,175 Member
    ninerbuff wrote: »
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    I'm old enough to have been adult in the 1980s (even the 1970s, actually): Good grief. No. "People" were not "taut & toned". That's the movies. On average people were thinner, certainly, but "toned" women (in real life) were probably less muscular than nowadays, and probably being "fit" in any rational definition was less common amongst the general population of women compared to now, besides. Most women in the 1980s were not "toned" or fit.
    AnnPT77 wrote: »
    I'm old enough to have been adult in the 1980s (even the 1970s, actually): Good grief. No. "People" were not "taut & toned". That's the movies. On average people were thinner, certainly, but "toned" women (in real life) were probably less muscular than nowadays, and probably being "fit" in any rational definition was less common amongst the general population of women compared to now, besides. Most women in the 1980s were not "toned" or fit.

    I stated
    "Healthy weighted,portioned, fit bodies"
    Not saying everyone was" fit", but I observed for the most part, people appeared, average, healthy weight, in general, in real footage clips ect..and in older stuff just kinda seems like people weren't really as Obese ..idk
    ALSO
    -Im aware of the aerobics trend in the 1980s, that's where I notice alot of taught tone bodies" in older 80s footage; People are saying drugs, but weren't the drugs illegal? Were most and/or "regular "people taking drugs too?
    We still had physical fitness classes that were mandatory in schools. Fast food most of the time were treats and not regular daily meals. Less commuting (people love to eat in their cars for 1+ commutes). Many still had some physical aspect that they had to do at their jobs. And last................portions were smaller than today.

    I'm thinking now that many countries think that Americans are rich because being fat in other countries is a sign of having money. Lol and with 65% of our country overweight or obese, they likely think we're loaded.

    A.C.E. Certified Personal and Group Fitness Trainer
    IDEA Fitness member
    Kickboxing Certified Instructor
    Been in fitness for 30 years and have studied kinesiology and nutrition

    9285851.png

    This just made me realize how much more sedentary my job is now that I sit in front of a computer, although it's always been an office job. I used to walk to a coworker's office to show them something, now I attach it to an email. So much more of my job is now derived from some aspect of the computer that I get up and move way less.

    I can see the all-day snacking aspect as well. I sit fairly close to the microwave and when the office is at full staff, that thing is in steady use, even at non-standard meal times.
  • lemurcat2
    lemurcat2 Posts: 7,867 Member
    edited February 2021
    Partly Fen-phen, my mom and all her friends were on it. By the 80's, fast food was everywhere, junk food was everywhere and rushed parents were nuking frozen chicken nuggets and making boxed mac n cheese for their kids on a nearly daily basis. At least, that was the situation where I grew up. Adults in the 80's had access to diet drugs since pulled from the market. Kids in the 80's were fat. I was a 240 lb 14 year old and I wasn't even in the top ten of the biggest ones at the local high school.

    I'm not so sure. I don't recall fen-phen being a thing 'til later, and wiki seems to back me up: "Fenfluramine as a single drug was first introduced in the 1970s, but was not popular because it only temporarily reduced weight. A 1984 study found a weight loss of 7.5 kg on average in 24 weeks, as compared to 4.4 kg under placebo. It sold modestly until the 1990s, when it was combined with phentermine and heavily marketed."

    Also, I was 10-19 in the '80s, and I was average weight and thought I was fat. Tight jeans were popular, girls thought they were failures for not having flat stomachs, and I recall very few (usually one or two a year) fat kids, and fat then was less than fat now. I had a couple of obese teachers, and my mom struggled with being overweight (not obese) and was always on a diet. Being overweight wasn't that uncommon among adults, but extremely so among children in my recollection.

    I was middle class (although my parents were open enough about being financially insecure due to various reasons that I worried about money all the time), my school was middle to lower middle class. I do agree there's a socio-economic component to weight in the US (in my social circle, which is mostly professional types, being fat has been IME quite rare even in the 21st C, although I managed, when I visited my parents it was common where I grew up). I don't think it's cost of food, however, as both meat and veg are much cheaper in general vs when/where I grew up in the '80s (let alone as a percentage of salary in years prior to that), and buying more food/restaurant food is inherently more expensive than home cooking. Food has on average gotten cheaper and cheaper in the US over time.

    I'm in a school district where the vast majority of kids are in poverty and get free breakfast and lunch (and anyone can since the percentage is so high). They've made sure to still provide that while not providing in person learning since last March. Yet they've also been working hard to have better nutrition in meals the kids will still eat (picking up on Michelle Obama's efforts back 10+ years ago). Many of the closer elementary schools have garden projects and such (elementary schools here are more income diverse than the school district as a whole, but I have heard about such things in poorer areas too).
  • Speakeasy76
    Speakeasy76 Posts: 960 Member
    33gail33 wrote: »
    Maybe we were skinnier back then, but I don't think we ate healthier. (I was born in 1965 and joke I was raised on second hand smoke, hot dogs and blistering sun burns.) When I was a kid my mom thought hot dogs was a nutritious meal for kids, "mac and cheese" and "scalloped potatoes" came out of a box, vegetables were frozen corn and peas, breakfast was boxed cereal loaded with sugar, cheese was those processed slices (I never knew there was another kind!), white bread only, and we ate chips and pop for snacks. I think maybe I ate the occasional apple? And gallons of milk for some reason. Yeah my mom went big on the processed food train as soon as it was available. Wonder why I suffered from chronic constipation my entire childhood. I was skinny though.

    Yes, exactly! I feel my family evolved, though, and definitely served more nutritious foods as we got older. We did get a salad with actual romaine lettuce and a variety of fresh vegetables at almost every meal. However, my husband's parents still pretty much eat this way. My parents haven't really struggled with weight, even though my dad was a bit heavier at times he carried it well and didn't have the potbelly that older men seem to get. My husband's parents are even skinnier than mine (his dad especially), but they have problems like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
  • kenyonhaff
    kenyonhaff Posts: 1,377 Member
    TV and Movies has always generally shown whatever the standard of beauty is of the day. It is interesting to note that the women of the 50-60s had a softer, rounder look in general. (In Mad Men the actresses were asked to discontinue exercise programs in order to achieve this look.) In the 1970s the "Twiggy" look was in (thin). In the 1980s came the more athletic look -- women were more muscular (although still thin) with the advent of aerobics.

    In the past, obesity was not so widespread. Yes, there were always people with weight issues in modern times. Usually it is attributed to:

    * Lack of exercise. In the past, kids played more and more outside. Recreation was more things like jump rope, riding bikes, playing in the woods, games of hide and go seek. Kids actually organized their own neighborhood sports of baseball, stickball, ice hockey or whatever. (Peanuts was not making that up). TV was limited...afternoon and Saturday morning cartoons. After that, kids got bored and often went outside to look for fun. Kids also tended to walk to school and back more. Adults also tended to walk more--before the explosion of suburbs most people lived either in denser urban areas and walked to work (or public transit) or in the country, where farm work was farm work. People often worked more physically too. Lumberjacks used to use axes to fell trees and were incredibly physical; now machinery does most of the work and I've seen obese loggers.


    *Food. Fast food and take out were less widespread. Restaurants for most people were a once in a while indulgence. Most people ate at home. The grocery stores did not have as much prepared and ultra processed food. (Your small family market might have one brand of potato chips, soda, ice cream, and three types of breakfast cereal!) Most people had no option to swing by McDonald's for lunch break -- you made a sandwich and/or a thermos of soup brought it to work. There's also issues of sweeteners, fat content, portion sizes and more.

    The answer is complicated, but in general, we eat too much and often a lot of crappy unhealthy food. We don't move enough.
  • mariamsmb1
    mariamsmb1 Posts: 19 Member
    They don’t look fitter to me, just skinny.

    Fast food was a rarity growing up for me as an 80s baby. We never had soda or treats on the house except for birthday parties. My parents fed us home cooked, healthy food although I was still a bit chubby due to the rule that I have to finish everything on my plate even if I was already full.

    We played outside a lot. Growing up we only had one car so we walked to the grocery store and many other places. People too day are a lot more sedentary.