50 Reasons Why Diabesity Wasn’t Prevalent 50 Years Ago

Much of what we did was manual, so we burned off the calories that we took in. When you consider that we did many of these activities on a regular basis, it is easy to see how we were able to remain trim.

| Apr 23, 2009

The following list shows 50 of the ways we have "convenienced" ourselves into diabesity. Before the technology boom, most Americans were active at work, at home, and at play. Much of what we did was manual, so we burned off the calories that we took in. When you consider that we did many of these activities on a regular basis, it is easy to see how we were able to remain trim. Obviously, no single one of these activities burns a large amount of calories by itself, but taken together, it is easy to see that the number of calories burned really begins to add up. (By the way, if you remember any of the things on this list, you don't have to tell anyone.) 

  1. There were no TV remotes: You had to actually get up, walk over to the television, and turn a dial.
  2. "Super Size It" wasn't invented.
  3. There were no personal computers.
  4. Microwave ovens were available only to the rich.
  5. Many women cooked full meals three times a day.
  6. There were no zip-lock bags (moms wrapped sandwiches with wax paper).
  7. Physical education was a requirement throughout high school. 
  8. Far fewer cars had power steering and brakes.
  9. Wringer washers were still in use.
  10. The hula hoop was a current fad.
  11. There were no bread making machines.
  12. Washing a car meant using a bucket, sponge, and a hose, because automatic car washes were few and far between.
  13. Many homes didn't have a television.
  14. People had to iron their clothes: There was no such thing as permanent press.
  15. There were no video games.
  16. Frisbee was becoming popular.
  17. Cordless tools were pushed, pulled, or cranked.
  18. Electric garage door openers were rare.
  19. Soda machines dispensed only eight, 10, or 12 ounce bottles.
  20. Wood and coal were common heating sources.
  21. Automatic dishwashers were a luxury item.
  22. Most typewriters were manual.
  23. Most bicycles only had one speed. 
  24. Sidewalk games such as hopscotch were popular.
  25. Most lawn mowers didn't have engines
  26. There were no leaf blowers, only rakes.
  27. There were no trash compactors.
  28. Most homes only had one telephone, and it had a three-foot cord. 
  29. Refrigerators and freezers required manual defrosting.
  30. There were no disposable diapers. Parents actually washed and dried diapers. 
  31. Many housewives didn't have an automatic dryer: They hung out their clothes on a line.
  32. It was safe to let kids walk to school.
  33. There were no self-cleaning ovens.
  34. You could still work on your own automobile.
  35. The family ate meals together at the table.
  36. Many cars were manual shift, (three on the tree).
  37. Many people walked to the corner store for groceries: Supermarkets were just being invented.
  38. Weekend dances were popular, especially after football or basketball games.
  39. No one texted: People wrote letters in longhand.
  40. Airports didn't have people-mover walkways.
  41. There were no electric toothbrushes.
  42. Garbage disposals were rare.
  43. A class "A" school lunch required a knife, fork, and spoon.
  44. Pizza was a rare treat, not a food staple.
  45. People took off storm windows and put on screens in the spring.
  46. They put the storm windows back on in the fall. 
  47. Kids had clamp-on roller skates.
  48. Riding lawn mowers were owned only by the rich.
  49. There were far fewer processed foods.
  50. The largest bottle of soda you could buy was 32 ounces.
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Posted by Anonymous on 26 April 2009

Very few people drank soda with meals. Milk or water was far more common. My parents put soda into the category of items that "will stunt your growth" along with coffee. So children were not allowed to drink soda until they were in their teens.

Posted by Anonymous on 27 April 2009

Not only do I remember "three on the tree", I still have one, and it still runs. 1960 Chevy pickup. It has manual everything: steering, windows, brakes...and if it breaks down, I can push it out of the street by myself, and I'm a woman.

I remember PE classes, too. You had to take them. Some of them were fun and some were boring. I hated dodgeball (still do) but dance was good fun. We had classes in folk dancing that were separate from PE, too.

I definitely remember skate keys. I still have a manual typewriter; I was given one when I was ten. I remember soda being a rare treat indeed and by no means a regular occurrence. Even on the rare occasions when we went out for burgers - to McDonald's, even - our parents bought milk for us kids, not soda.

I think you're just a bit behind the times with regard to the wringer washers, coal and wood heat, and lack of garbage disposals, though. I certainly don't remember anything other than an automatic washer, and everyone we knew (and we were far from wealthy) had either electric or gas heat. And several families did have a garbage disposal, and it was inevitable that someone would accidentally drop a spoon down there and not notice, and then turn it on.

I will be 50 in December.

Posted by Anonymous on 30 April 2009

Ihave always always thought it is wrong how much pizza is consumed by kids (and parents)..These same parents are sometimes so fussy about this food or that food but they'll put pizza on the table 2 times a week for dinner. The calories and fat in this food item.....I shudder when I think about it....and why we have to have 20, 24, or 32 ounce sodas in convenience stores is beyond me. And I'm not a old fuddy duddy (okay, I'm 52..:-)) Remember, 50 is the new 40!

Posted by Anonymous on 30 April 2009

there was no antibiotics like TEQUIN that caused diabetes I am a victim of such a drug. It made me a type 1 after taking it.

Posted by Anonymous on 30 April 2009

I remember always being outdoors as a child and even as a young adult and being active and never had a problem with being overweight until after I turned 30. I blame our society for making us into a bunch of couch potatoes and making things way too easy now, I miss the good old days when it was ok to play in the street, drink from the hose and if you fell down, you didn't sue your neighbor!

Posted by eonan on 30 April 2009

This is pure propaganda by the poison pushers who wish to blame the victim for the results of their gender bending chemicals that now permeate each bite, breath, and drop of anything we drink, including water. As long as our food, and environment are allowed to be chronically contaminated we shall have obesity as only one among many chronic illnesses. This is the greatest change affecting our weight in the last 100 years or at least since WWII. Propagandized 'obesibigots' to stir up hate and blame the obese for our failure to be slim neglects our failure regulate chemicals. Corporate propaganda may convince a few, but eventually like racial, sexual, and gender bigotry obesibigots will be revealed for what they are, greedy and stupid.

Posted by Jerry1423 on 1 May 2009

I have been thinking about the inactivity of people and how it is affecting the physiology of the human being for quite a while now. This point of this article is accuarte, It is all very sad and this may be the thing that determines our negative demise.
No, there is nothing based on propaganda here. No company planned that the human population would be so ignorant and get so outragously fat - it just happened that way.
Nobody is to blame for ones obesity, but that person themselves (except maybe their parents). We were the last on "our block" to have a color TV, remote control, and a dishwasher - and we never thought ot cared that we didn't have those things. Most of my siblings had paper routes - something that is almost non-existant around here now, especially for our youth.
Modern convieniences are nice, but if the time saved by those conviences is spent on ones ass then they are not worth having.
I guess one positive thing about being type 1 diabetic for 34 years is that I watched what I ate more than others, and did more to keep myself healthier. If you didn't do things similar to that it is your own fault.
Who knows ... maybe I will live longer than the average human being now because of that.

Posted by Anonymous on 1 May 2009

Many great points. My husband and I talk about these very same things (I'm 32 and he is 26). I am type 2 and do blame the foods, chemicals and general laziness of people as part of the problem (family history also plays a part). My husband grew up farming and raising livestock and is not afraid of manual labor, unlike most people our age. His biggest downfall is soda, they drank it with every meal and all day long. I do not believe there should be soda machines in any school, kids don't need it, milk or water is just fine, and really, unless you are at lunch, there's no need for drinks during the day. We have made a committment to each other to live and eat (as best we can) like people did 30+ years ago. Society, in general, has become very lazy.

Posted by Kris4321 on 1 May 2009

Bravo, Jerry1423! Well said. Keep up the hard work and good attitude...

36 yrs.

Posted by rosiolady on 1 May 2009

I've been an overweight-to-obese type 1 for 38 years. I think the article skirts the edges of "it's your own fault." But looking farther, that can't be so because we eat what is available for us to eat (listen up food industry!). Also, lifestyles have changed over the years. In my growing up years I had a stay-at-home mom who had time to cook most of our meals from scratch, grow a garden, preserve food herself, etc. When "everyone" works, where does a person find the time (and energy) to regularly prepare unprocessed foods for the family? It's hard. My diet growing up was excellent, except we ate a lot of pastries and canned fruit with sugar syrup in the wintertime. It didn't stop me from developing type 1. Of course the issue might be more of a problem for type 2s, still I think too much emphasis is put on diet and exercise for them, because those are not the only factors. High stress lives and genetics also come into play, maybe just as much as diet and exercise. Obesity seriously runs in my family. Both my brother and sister (we're now in our 60s/70s are really obese but not diabetic--not even type 2). I think medical experts harp on diet and exercise because it is something that can be controlled to some extent. And it IS part of the interplay. A healthier diet and more exercise "could" perhaps at least delay type 2 onset. But it's hard. No one should forget, if they don't already know it, it's hard!

Posted by Anonymous on 4 May 2009

Great list! I don't know how much the disappearance of these things actually contributed to the rise in obesity, but the list is a terrific reminder of what life was like when I was a kid (I'm 47 now). Having to run to answer a telephone (if your family was fortunate enough to have an in-house telephone)? Now, THAT was exercise!!

Posted by Ted Hutchinson on 26 May 2009

50yrs ago we spent more time outdoors in the sunshine and didn't use sunscreen, we didn't get sunburn't so frequently partly because our skins became hardened to UV exposure and partly because our OMEGA 3OMEGA 6 ratio was much better because we consumed less industrially made omega 6 vegetable oils which further deplete Omega 3 status.
So we had a higher anti inflammatory status and a lower pro inflammatory diet.

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