How were people in the 50’s, 60’s’ and 70’s so skinny?

People back then ate much less and were more active, and it was less socially acceptable to be fat.

I was born in the mid 1950s. Food portions were much smaller, people were more active, and people were actually called out for being fat. I was called boogerinocerous because of my last name and size. I was a little overweight in grade school. I was bullied. A lot.

It was very rare to see an actual fat person and they were noticed. A only a very few were obese, we were told they had hormone problems. I used to think my grandfather was heavy, but learned he was about 6 feet and weighted just 160. He looked downright skinny in most photos. At the time, I considered him a bit chubby, because people were generally skinnier.

Fast food was much less common and not a part of most peoples’ routine diet. I rarely ate out or got fast food until I was a teenager and occasionally snuck out for burgers. McDonald’s wasn’t even in my town until 1970 or so when I was in high school. A&W root beer and burgers at the drive through was a once-a-year treat. Pizza wasn’t available until I was a in 12th grade. Before then, it was a 20+ mile drive to get some.

Snacks at movie theater were small. Bags of popcorn were tiny, and candy was in regular, small bars and bags.

We were active as a part of daily life. Exercise and workout wasn’t a thing except for football players and jocks. We just moved around a lot using our own bodies, you really didn’t need to go to the gym to get in shape. Nobody joined an athletic club to get fit. They would have been ridiculed in the 60s and 70s. Nobody wanted to look “buffed.”

We had actual PE classes wherein we sweated; I ran a mile every day from 7th–12th grade, even in the extreme heat of suburban Livermore. I rode my bike and walked everywhere from 1st grade until I got my license. I never got driven to school, even in rain. Yes, us kiddies walked to school with a friend, our sister, or even alone.

Even with my much coveted drivers’ license, I didn’t drive to school. The family car was given out for special occasions, like going out with the girlfriend or a group of friends to an appropriate event of some sort. I rode a bicycle or walked most places until a couple of friends got cars when I was in 11th or 12th grade.

For most of my childhood and high school, I rode my bike to the library, swimming pool, friend's houses, stores, hobby shops, music lessons, scout meetings, work, etc. I was rail thin from 4th–12th grade, then I got lazy and ate way too much in college. I rode my bicycle on and off to college, but not that often because my campus was on top of a hill and my apartment was at the bottom. I got rides from friends or took a bus.

I’ve been struggling with my weight ever since I graduated high school in the early 1970s.

Below are some random images showing growth in portion sizes from google image search:

Burgers went from 120 calories to 310

Bagels went from 3 inch/140 calories to 6 inch/350 calories. I’ve been informed in the comments that good bagels were rarely 3 inch, but that bagel sizes have crept up over the years, nonetheless.

Snack sizes ballooned. Fried, popcorn, soft drinks, and burgers at least doubled in calories.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

Do you agree that people used to eat less?

#Culture #History #Society #food #Quora


What are your thoughts on this subject?
Wendy Stamatovich
I think it’s mostly due to inactivity. Put down the phones, get off the computer, turn off the tv. Go to the beach, the park, the woods, the lake!! Oh and I absolutely don’t believe in fat shaming, it just plain wrong. If someone is overweight or underweight for that matter teasing or shaming them is not the way. Encourage healthy eating and getting outside more, but shaming is just... well shameful and it says more about you than it does them(and it’s not good)!!!
Sep 30, 2018 6:52PM
Jim Hofwolt
We didn't have i-pads, games consoles or mobile phone then. I lived 4 miles from town when I was a kid and didn't worry about riding to town on my bike. We also did farm work which was very good exercise. We ate and drank full sugar food and soft drinks.. Working and playing were our exercise. We(my brothers and I) would race our bikes (pedal, not motor) on the gravel back roads for fun and never thougt of it as exercise. It was just fun...
Sep 19, 2018 7:13AM
Sheryn Whitehurst
Yes; we were more active as children, chores, riding bikes, playing outside in the natural world. Seeing things closely around us. Food was always a solid breakfast (granny big on giving us oatmeal! in Winter), a packed lunch for school (ie) sandwich, fruit from home and our milk was given by the school! Dinners (supper) always a salad, meat and veggies, very balanced diet. Made from scratch. We didn't have "pop/soda, fast foods, so that home made cookies or desserts were a treat! I believe we wore off the calories just running about and playing outside with friends. I also believe the veggie patch/garden played a big role with our diet, shake the dirt off a carrot and actually eat it! as a snack! apple trees, meant pies, cherry trees same and granny put up jams from the many different trees and bushes available, None of which was ever "spayed" with chemicals.. It is unfortunate that children of today mainly get GMO or quick foods and no exercise of the right kind, glued to tv or phones or ipads..such a pity. I don't believe they have to shovel snow, cut the lawn, weed the gardens, care for animals (outside) and a thousand and one other things we used to be responsible for. Not all children are hothouse plants, but in this age of "technology" is king, I sincerely wish they could see further than the electronics and experience the natural world.
Dec 29, 2018 3:21PM
Irene A
Not as much processed food then, that’s what puts the weight on
Sep 20, 2018 7:21PM
I did not grow up with the things that we have today, I lived on a 200 acre farm and there's a lot of stuff to do, the closest neighbors were 1 mile never had kids spend the night, too many chores, but we ate very well and I was over weight, I was not comfortable with my diet until I started eating less food, and healthy food, I was the baby ♡
Nov 26, 2020 5:24PM
lila allen esq
There were no gmo The folds was better because the soil was more nutrient dense Kids played outside in fresh air and we didn't have chemicals sprayed on us 24/7 No chem clouds Smaller portions More activity All makes a difference
Nov 21, 2019 7:41PM
some of what they have is miss leading. match the weights and some are almost equal. like the pepperoni pizza. you have 4 oz at 500 cal. and 1.5 oz at 210 cal. 1.5 x 2 is 3 oz witch = 210 x 2 is 420 add another oz and your close to 500 cal.
Oct 8, 2019 11:24PM
Jeff Krueger
I agree, I was way more active back in the early mid to late seventies. Plus portion sizes are insane. I only eat in proportion of calories spent. I do not eat just because what time it is. I am 5'10" and 166 and still feel over weight. Got the old man paunch you know??!!
Jun 27, 2019 5:01PM
Don Markusic
Wendy Stamatovich, Sheryn Most females weren't in the work force . In the 50s 60s . They had time to cook .a healthy meal . By the 70s women started entering the work force in full . Quick food orders became commonplace . Not blaming ladies my wife worked.
Jun 16, 2019 8:40PM
John Cameron
I have always done a reasonable amount of exercise, bike riding or walking. As I have aged I have reduced the amount of food intake due to the fact that as we age we cannot process the same amount of food as we did when younger. Sugar intake, especially through soft drinks appears to be one of the main contributors to obesity (this includes drinks with sugar substitutes) If you just drink water and don't fill up on junk food and do some exercise there is no reason to become obese. I am currently 65 kg at 5 ft 7" tall and have never been overweight in my 62 years on earth. It is very rare to see an obese person who does not eat more than they require or drinks water for their normal drink.
Jun 11, 2019 6:47AM
Louis Michael Durocher,
I've never had any problems with my weight, I'm 6'5'' 215 lbs...Very athletic...I hate bullies and people who ridicule others because of their physical appearance. I stand up for these people..
May 21, 2019 11:43PM
hector tubens
Good info
Apr 7, 2019 2:36PM
Eric Leif Peters
Contrary to most of the posters' erroneous opinions, it takes a massive amount of exercise to lose even a little weight. The problem is that our diet is excessively caloric (particularly in the amount of simple carbohydrates like high-fructose corn sugar, which was not loaded into foods 40-50 years ago). This is what comes of subsidizing corn. First, put cheap sugar into everything. When that market is glutted, feed it to livestock and get people to eat massive amounts of meat at virtually every meal. Finally, when that market is saturated, turn it into alcohol and burn it as motor fuel.
Apr 1, 2019 2:27AM
Patricia Crowther Steeves
Also there were not as many fast food outlets, and most families ate at home
Mar 21, 2019 4:05PM
Raymond Cardona
Yes it wasn't that long ago that portions were more controlled, now food and beverages are way too huge; and with huge portions come a slew of health issues. I found your article interesting but the portions not too surprising just a bit disgusting!! Bonnie
Feb 27, 2019 7:57PM
Ma Bales
People come in all sizes ! Big & little Men & & women, boys & girls !!!
Feb 24, 2019 6:02PM
Diane Lynn Kinsman
Farm girl, we either worked, played, was out side, racing about. Biked a bit, hiked lots. We ate a lot. We were hungry . Food at home was mainly healthy, and if not, wore it off. I read at night..
Feb 20, 2019 5:12PM
LeRoy Johnston
lack of Air Conditioning also
Feb 18, 2019 11:27PM
Marguerite LaHaye
Years ago, going out for fast food was something we did on special occasions. Even candy bars were once a week treats. Mom baked cookies but kept them in a hiding place to make sure we didn’t get greedy.
Jan 30, 2019 11:54PM

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