The average Australian woman has grown less than two centimetres in height since 1960, but she’s put on almost 7.3 kilograms. What’s the cause of this extra weight gain though?
Most women weigh around 71.1 kilograms in 2016, which means we’ve gone up about two dress sizes in recent decades. It’s no surprise that we’re facing an obesity epidemic in Australia, but here’s what the experts think is too blame:
Buying different groceries today
In the 1960s, supermarkets were still a relatively new concept and most women walked to their local grocers for fresh produce instead. Bread was bought at the bakery, meat at the local butcher and fruit and vegetables was often grown at home.
Fridges were small, and freezers were virtually non-existent, so the average woman made this shopping trip daily. She bought less food, because products were expense. In fact, one third of the average Aussie income went towards food back in the 1960s. Today, that figure is more like one sixth.
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Less time for homecooking today
Since food was expensive in the 1960s, the average woman undertook lots of home-cooking. Women were frugal, and would use entire cuts of meats in homemade pies, casseroles and quiches. They also spent less money on “prepackaged” foods, like biscuits and chips, and instead baked a variety of more wholesome scones or cakes.
Women ate three square meals each day. Breakfast was normally porridge or toast, lunch was typically fresh-cut sandwiches with a piece of fruit and sweet baked treat, whilst dinner was meat with three veg. Families ate less snacks, so dinner plates were normally licked clean, so to speak!
Much bigger portion sizes today
Plates in the 1960s were one and a half times smaller than today. Glasses were also smaller, which meant less calories wasted on wine, soft drink or juice. Eating out was a rarity more reserved for special occasions. There were no such thing as “super sized” burgers and fries. Instead, takeaways were simply just fish and chips from the local seafood store, or Chinese stir-fries.
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Less incidental exercise today
Back in the 1960s, the notion of “deliberate” exercise was fairly restricted too aerobics. Instead, women played cricket and tennis outdoors for fun, and burned calories that way. Women were also much busier and active with housework. Making beds, washing clothes, mopping floors and ironing all involved incidental exercise.
Families walked a lot more back in the 1960s. The use of “active” transport like walking and cycling has declined by over 42% in recent decades. Children weigh more in 2016 too, whilst the average male adult has put on around 12 kilos since the 1960s.
What do you think are the main causes of weight gain today? What did you do differently in the 1960s? How did Australians stay fit and healthy back then?