Obesity rates '20% higher now than in the 1960s'
26th February 2010
Despite UK’s love affair with high fat foods like condensed milk & microwave dinners, people enjoyed healthier lifestyles in the sixties than they do now, experts claim. Although it was an era when people had less access to gyms, those overweight were also more likely to try to slim then. It is thought that modern lifestyles have contributed the shift in people’s health. Fewer people now walk to work or school with more than double the proportion of people owning cars, while television ownership has risen from 75 per cent of households to almost 99 per cent. The research, by the Change4Life health campaign, examined data from surveys in 1967 and compared the responses to a poll this year. It reveals that in 1967, nine out of 10 people surveyed had tried to lose weight during that year but in 2010 that had fallen to just over half (57 per cent). Of those considered overweight, only 7 per cent in 1967 had failed to do anything about it, while 43 per cent of people overweight today admitted taking steps to slim. More than three-quarters of 1960s adults said that they walked for at least half an hour every day compared to only 42 per cent in 2010. And although weight loss technology was still in its infancy, 2 per cent of people claimed to have used vibrating massage belts – the 60s equivalent of Power Plates – for weight loss in 1967. Professor Oddy, the social historian and author of The Rise of Obesity in Europe: a Twentieth Century Food History, said: “Nowadays, our increasingly sedentary lives paired with the proliferation of a wide range of unhealthy foods have combined to create a very difficult environment for people to reach and maintain a healthy weight.” In the 1960s only 1 per cent of men and 2 per cent of women in England were classed as obese compared to today’s 25.2 per cent of men and 27.7 per cent of women. At the end of the 1950s, the average man weighed 10.2 stone (65kg) and the average woman 8.7 stone (55kg). Today the average weights are 13.2 stone (83.6kg) and 11.1 stone (70.2kg) respectively. The health problems associated with obesity are numerous. Obesity is not just a cosmetic problem. It's a health hazard. Someone who is 40% overweight is twice as likely to die prematurely as is an average-weight person. This is because obesity has been linked to several serious medical conditions, including: • Heart disease and stroke. • High blood pressure. • Diabetes. • Cancer. • Gallbladder disease and gallstones. • Osteoarthritis. • Erectile Dysfunction • Gout. • Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for a short time during sleep) and asthma.