Why is it harder to maintain weight level now than in the 80s?

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Yes. I keep thinking this. If you watch a movie from the 70’s or 80’s, there’s something about the shape of people that just looks thinner, not as puffed up. One movie where I really notice it was in Carrie, during the gym class scene where it’s just a bunch of extras. The body shapes were thinner looking.


And here I thought it was just because I am 30 years older now than I was then…


I don’t have confidence they could have completely eliminated the effect of “sitting in front of a computer” all day from the equation. Seems the most obvious to me.


I don’t know about anyone else, but my weight ballooned in the 80s.

That’s probably not what was meant by all this, but I did go from about 50 to about 150 pounds in that decade, and nothing like that since. :slight_smile:


Me too, but it was probably more like from about 30 to 90 or so.



On the plus side, everyone has really buff thumbs. Bums, not so buff.

On a serious note though, how much has ‘food engineering’ changed what Joe and Jane Sixpack are shoveling into their pie holes? I bet it’s lots more HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) more refined carbs, cheaper crap = more lbs/kg. I bet diabetes and obesity are also at least 10% greater than the 80s.


Agreed. The abstract only mentions comparing “leisure time physical activity.”


Ok…class action lawsuit detailing the “change in gut bacteria” as the cause of hypertension, bloat, weight gain, and overall reduction in health in 3, 2, 1…

An interesting observation, but I question the accuracy with which the researchers are able to compare activity levels between the two groups. I only have access the abstract of the article, but the wording suggests that the activity levels are based upon reporting, not observation, and self-reporting of is a notoriously unreliable method of measurement. In the case of activity, there is a lot of “activity” (walking to the bathroom, figiting, standing in lines, etc…) that falls beneath notice unless one is wearing a fitbit or some such thing (which I doubt was used in the 1980’s).

In short, I am skeptical. (Though people are certainly rounder today! I am endlessly stunned to see the way kids start getting somewhat padded looking around 10 or 11, depresses the hell out of me).


Sugar, ah, honey, honey
You are my candy girl
And you got me wanting you


They glossed over the real reason, as usual. Humanity are evolving into the Hutt.


I usually get quite a bit of pushback on this, but should be pretty obvious to anyone without a pro-tech agenda axe to grind that obesity in America is a direct result of the home video game boom that began in the late 80s, and home computers. Yes, Atari was around in the mid 70s but it’s the quality of games that has increased and made them so immersive, so I don’t really count anything until home-based nintendo/supernintendo or 1987ish. And yes, computers have been around since the 70s as well, but the uber-addictve entertainment and media they provide didn’t become pervasive until the mid-90s (AOL chatrooms anyone?) I also blame fast food and the incredibly pervasive food commercials that are seen nowadays. When I was a kid (mid 1970s) McDonald’s was a treat, perhaps once a month. Now, fast food is a daily option for many people (especially lower-income people who need their food fast and ready so they’re not late to work, or their kids aren’t late to school. I wish there were a study of commercials and their content from 1970 to now. Going by memory, it absolutely seems like there are a lot more food commercials (fast or otherwise) than there used to be. And while it’s obvious that there are more tech commercials, the sheer pervasiveness of them is even alarming to me now. Every other commercial seems to tout the latest laptop, notepad, smart phone, smart watch, or otherwise smart gadget to improve Humanity. Ugh.


There’s also the virus-based theories…

Is Obesity Caused by an Adenovirus?

Longitudinal studies may help settle this question to a large extent. A longitudinal study in rhesus monkeys showed that natural Ad-36 infection was associated with a 15% increase in body weight and a 29% drop in serum cholesterol levels.[11] Such studies with a long-term follow-up of changes in adiposity and other phenotypes associated with natural Ad-36 infection are required in humans.

Adenovirus serotype 36 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I seem to recall that there is an increase in weight among wild critters near human populations as well – this might support a viral component. (my google-fu is failing me, however).

Edit: here’s a recent review article:
Adenovirus 36 and Obesity: An Overview

Obesity is a multifactorial pathology and the understanding of the different contributing factors is crucial for its efficient management.

Recent studies have shown a possible correlation between obesity and Adv36 viral infections. Animals infected with Adv36 show increase of body weight and physiological changes, increased glucose absorption and decreased secretion of leptin and cholesterol (Figure 4).

The Adv36 infections should therefore be considered as a possible risk factor for obesity and this could be a potential new way to investigate on the worldwide epidemic of obesity. Further research on viruses contributing to obesity is essential. Studying the favorable effect of Adv36 on metabolic consequences of obesity may provide insight to novel treatments that improve glycemic control despite adiposity. Identifying the viral protein responsible for influencing glucose disposal may help in developing novel anti-diabetic therapeutic agents.


argh - these “studies…” we know exactly why - it’s because people drive more. They might be getting the same amount of “exercise” - but the amount of “active commuting” has declined dramatically. People simply do not walk or bike places as much. when was the last time you walked to the store? when I was growing up we walked to school - how many kids walk to school today? This study completely completely neglects what people are doing the rest of their days when they aren’t eating or “exercising.”

of course we all want to find some kind of quick fix or something ridiculous about gut biomes - but the truth is more people today live in places where you can only get around by car - in 1988 there weren’t many people living in the drive-only exurbs - even suburban places were more walkable than they are now. Car-centric planning and living is THE major public health crisis facing our country today - 30k people a year die in traffic crashes - but countless others are getting sicker, fatter, and dying from health issues related to both fossil fuel pollution and being completely reliant on cars. There’s grand irony in someone complaining about being stuck in traffic on their way to spinning class. Of course they wouldn’t bike outside because it’s “unsafe.” this is insanity.


Yeah, it’s ignoring the dramatic reduction in incidental exercise. Walking places, keeping house, mowing your own lawn, just living. The world is seeing an ever-increasing incidence of exercise avoidance machines. Just thinking around our house…we move laundry from the washer to the dryer without taking a single step. My mom carried it outside and hung it on the line. We whip cream with a mixer…we used to do it with a whisk. We don’t have to get up to change channel or adjust volume. We play our music from our computers, rather than walk over to change a record. Hell, even our fireplace has a remote control. My lawnmower has powered wheels. I just follow it, rather than push it. I trim the edges with a gas-powered weed-whacker, rather than by hand. I blow leaves, rather than rake them. It all adds up.


[citation needed]

Snark aside, I took the bus as a kid in the 80s, and now I am walking my daughter school (by way of a short commuter train ride). I would be very interested to see why the actual numbers look like, especially since America has pretty much been about car culture since there were cars to inculcate into it.


Kids whiled away indoor time with myriad other toys before there was an Atari 2600 in a huge number of homes. Video games are not the devil. Besides, most parents I know, self included, greatly limit the amount of time our kids are allowed to play. I’d sooner blame too much homework for overweight kids than video games. Do you have any idea how much homework kids have anymore? It starts in Kindergarten now.

You have a salient point with the fast food thing, though. It’s not something that should be eaten every single day. Not if you can afford some vegetables and have a vague inkling of how to cook.


This stuff is easy to find:

declines in walking:


strong correlation between car usage and obesity rates:


Here’s one on health benefits of taking public transit:

and here’s one about car commuting and weight gain:


don’t think it can get any clearer than this:

Over 4 years, those who used cars daily for commuting tended to gain more weight than those who did not commute by car. This relationship was pronounced among those who were physically active during leisure time. Reducing sedentary time may prevent weight gain among physically active adults.

some fed departments have already mentioned that “it is more desirable” for people to walk and bike - but it wasn’t until very recently that there are hints that the US Dept of Public Health is finally willing to admit that car-centric planning and subsidies is a major public health crisis. The car/oil lobby is pretty strong in washington - but I suspect one day they’ll put health warnings on cars like they do cigarettes.


I’ll put money here. Chemical packaging hormone stuff strikes me as a red herring. Especially because that’s easy to control for and study. There are numerous populations worldwide that don’t have the same access to these materials and populations within the country that study was conducted in that actively avoid them. I’d be surprised if no one has looked at this already. Of course there’s also negative result bias in the literature. I could be wrong, but based on how gut microbes are capable of breaking down compounds that might not otherwise be digestible, my hypothesis is that they have the capacity to inject more calories into our diet than we would normally absorb.