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1912 Height and Weight

This discussion on "1912 Height and Weight" is in the Health Medicine and Hygiene section; I recently heard that James Cameron built his Grand Staircase larger than the original so ...

      
   
  1. #1
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    I recently heard that James Cameron built his Grand Staircase larger than the original so it was in proper porportion, as people "are larger" today than in 1912. Does anyone know what the average height & weight would have been for man and woman in 1912?

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    While working in the costume collection at the university, I noticed that 5 ft. 9-10 inches and about 170 pounds seems about average for the men. (Archie Butt was 5' 10'and 185 pounds in 1907, but he was very fit and muscular, and terribly athletic). The ladies seem to be about 5' 3-4" on average with dress sizes running on average with what we call today a 6 or 8.(about 120 pounds) There were of course exceptions to the average- very tall men, very wide ladies, extremely petite etc,- and tailors and dressmakers must have been very busy keeping up with all the work. It is hard to find really large and wearable clothing from the Victorian- Edwardian period- our bodies are so differently shaped. Girls began corseting young. Our waists and bosoms are allowed to spread all over the place (not to mention augmented).

    I think the last restrained generation must have been my own back in the 50's when the gals still packed into nature-defying girdles and bullet-proof brassieres- and we never left home without our thighs clad modestly in Lycra-Spandex. The thing I notice most is how narrow the feet were for both men and women in 1912 and the ladies seem to have a size which today would be about a 6 or 7. Women's feet have gotten enormous today with the average size now at 8 1/2 with a great many gals going into 9-10 and even 11! Jackie Kennedy wore a size 10. Women's body shapes were quite different too, owing to that S-curve corset and mono-bosom look at the turn of the century. Posture has certainly changed as well-just take a look at how women carry themselves nowdays-in 1912 I suspect it would have been called "wanton abandon". Marjorie Newell had the best posture of anyone I ever met. She sat right on the end of her seat with a ramrod straight back at age 102. I complimented her upon that one day and she explained ladies were taught how to sit in the good old days. And how they could sit for hours without fiddling and figeting or having to go to the "convenience"- she said they all developed marvelous bladders as a consequence! Naturally anything connected with bodily functions was to be avoided.

    Also of note is the difference in hand size. Gloves of the period are long, thin and narrow. Ladies never left the house without gloves, some slept in cotton gloves at night, after massaging the knuckles well with rose water and glycerin, and of course middleclass- to upperclass did not redden and spread their knuckles by doing housework which required soaking in hot water. The wearing of gloves helped delay brown spots, kept chapping and sunburn away and gently molded the hand. A soft white hand was the sure mark of a real lady of refinement. You may recall that in the film The Age of Innocence, May (Winona Ryder) had her hands sculpted in Paris- which was the rage for the wealthy.My great-aunts and granny had a horror of the full sun and never went out without a sunshade or large-brimmed hat-they were born in the 1890's and knew a thing or two about the devastating effects of the sun.

  3. #3
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    A great site for all vintage clothes and accessories, with photographs, especially Edwardian is
    http://www.vintagemartini.com/index1.html

    A price list from a New Jersey newpaper 1912
    Men's blue or brown serge suits 1.98-5.98
    Men's hats 1.95
    Men's shirts .95
    Men's trousers 1.45-2.95/pair
    Women's dresses 12.50-25.00
    Women's serge dress 4.98
    Women's spring coat 4.98-9.98
    Children's dresses .50-2.95
    Children's shoes .85-3.00/pair
    Shoes, custom made 5.00/pair

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    Very informative, thanks for the info!

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    The average height and weight don't seem too different from today, but, as you said, the proportions vary.

    And as far as shoe sizes go, at 5-11, I wear a MEN'S 10 and a half, and generally a woman's 12, but with a normal width.

    They had the right idea about the sun in those days and I've pretty much followed that pattern. I've never laid out in the sun and never try to tan during the summer. At the age of nearly 48, it's paying off now in that I still don't have any crow's feet.

    I'm interested in bustle era clothing, and it is likewise difficult to find normal sized vintage clothing from that era. Finding even something that would correspond to a size ten would be considered a "large" size then.

    But it still baffles me, as larger women had to have existed even then...one would think clothing of larger proportions would appear occasionally. As an example, the children's author Louisa May Alcott was six feet tall.

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    Large women certainly did exist. Queen Victoria was short but very wide after Albert died- in fact, her black mourning dress in the costume museum at Bath, England is as long as it is wide. We come across many dresses at the university collection in inventory which have been extensively altered down to smaller sizes. Clothes were passed around and down many times, hemlines; necklines, sleeves were altered, gussets inserted, etc. so gowns got maximum wear. Even worn or stained garments were put on for wearing around the house. One famous old dress was burned by Lizzie Borden in 1892. She said she had gotten paint on it back in March, and burned it in the kitchen stove the day after the murdered parents' funeral- although the maid said she often wore it in the early morning doing chores! I suspect something more than paint may have been on the dress. There is currently a basque and skirt on ebay from the 1890 period which would correspond to about a ladies' 14-16 today.

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    The photos in Titanic show that most of the people of the period were pretty trim. Lots of walking helped. There's a famous photo of H & W workers starting to walk home after a hard day's work. However, not everybody was in good shape. The two women on page 174 might have stepped out of a modern shopping mall.

    You wouldn't want to run into Sir Robert Finlay either. (page 248)

    [Moderator's Note: This thread, originally placed all by itself under this topic, has been moved to this subtopic which deals with related matters. MAB]
    Dave Gittins
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    http://titanicebook.com/Book.html

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    I doubt obesity in 1912 was as widespread a problem as it is in 2007...

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    Shelly, the link for vintage clothing is wonderful, although I'm not sure some of those shoes would be very comfortable.

  10. #10
    George L. Lorton
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    A lot of people were shorter or smaller back then though. More petite. My great Grandmother was only 4ft 11inchs in height. Childhood diseases did a lot to stunt growth.

  11. #11
    Alyson Jones
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    In 1912 era alot of trim people,small amount of fat people.

    2008 era alot of fat and obeast people,small amount of trim people.
    That's how i see the to era's.

    I don't think height really has change in men from 1912 era to 2008, but 2008 men are more buffed up then 1912 era men.Gym was actually new at that time!

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    >>In 1912 era alot of trim people,small amount of fat people.<<

    Possibly, but I would resist the temptation to give credit to a "healthier" lifestyle as some romantics are tempted to do. For the wealthy at least, they could afford better quality food. The less well heeled had to make do with whatever they could afford. If there weren't so many of them with weight issues, it helps to know that they did a lot of manual labour. For a lot of reasons, they also tended to have shorter average lifespans.

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    >In 1912 era alot of trim people,small amount of fat people.

    Quite the opposite! In 1912, fat was desirable. Fat meant that you were going to live.

    Things were beginning to change but...hey...check out the weights of the various female bodies recovered from the Titanic, on this site! 5' 3" and 150 pounds seems about average.

    At that point, 'trim' still carried with it the suspicion of being tubercular. The gag the innumerable Catskills comics have attributed to mothers and grandmothers~ "Eat. You're too thin! People will think you're sick. EAT!"~ is a pretty accurate summation of how people, prior to the 1920s, viewed thinness.

    Even people who did crushing physical labor, like mill workers, tended to be thick waisted 'tho not corpulent.

    Check out the recent Taschen book of female and male nudes, 1850-onward. Hundreds of pre-1920 photos, none prurient, give you a pretty good idea of what was considered the physical ideal thru the entire history of photography. Let's just say that up til the 1920s, fat was good. Fat meant you were going to live.

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    People were clearly shorter in the early years of the 20th century. I have seen World War I uniforms (and read British army records) and a man 5 ft 8 inches or 5 ft 9 inches in height would have been regarded as somewhat taller than the average. Moreover, examination of uniform tunics suggests that they were often narrow-chested and very thin. I think Lawrence of Arabia, for example, was only about 5 ft tall.

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    Yes, I can tell. I often research ebay and it is impossible to get period clothes... I am 6 feet and 3 inches and have longer arms than average people as well as legs. And believe me, it is impossible to get anything...

  16. #16
    Alyson Jones
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    Hi jim yes i knew that,curvy women was very popular in 1912 i read and heard curvy and not thin was in,curvy does not mean fat.Curvy i meant by a women body being natural filled out body,that's how women are meant to be like those women in 1912,curvy with a bit of muscle and tissue,that was popular in 1912,fat obeast can't really be around in 1912 cause there was not much of junk food around unlike todays world ,well yes there was a bit of junk food back then.

    To me,1912 height has not really change compared to todays hieght. My dad and bro are the same hieght as the guys in 1912,my dad is 5 10-11 foot and my brother is 6-1 foot that's around the same size as a man back then.
    But i think us we have gotten alot wider than they were, manly cause of Gym being a fashion for men and so much junk food is being influence on us!What do you guys think?

    Regards

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    >>fat obeast can't really be around in 1912 cause there was not much of junk food around unlike todays world<<

    Oh don't you ever believe that. Obesity has been around for as long as there have been opportunities to over eat. Recently, the mummy of Queen Hatshesphut was identified and among her identifiable medical problems were dental absesses and overweight as well as evidence of diabetes which may well have hastened her death.

    But you don't have to go all the way back to Ancient Egypt to find examples. James Buchanan "Diamond Jim" Brady was an American businessman and also a notorious trencherman who was known to eat enough to feed ten people at one sitting. Click on http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diamond_Jim_Brady I think you might be amused.

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    >>fat obeast can't really be around in 1912 cause there was not much of junk food around unlike todays world<<

    ...But they were gargantuan eaters, what with those seven course meals, etc.....

    One more "From what I've heard department":
    There is a story going round that during the reconstruction of the banisters on the Grand Staircase at The Old Red Museum in Dallas, they had to be two inches higher than the original due to OSHA requirements "because people are taller than they were in 1890".

  19. #19
    Alyson Jones
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    Guys that pic he's in you could of fooled me! he's not even obeast,he looks like my father size an average man.Just cause back then he was classed as obeast that does not mean he's obeast in our world. If you want to see an obeast person just go to you're local shopping centre and just have a look around,even better if you live in the USA!
    This is very weirid to me what you are saying,i watch a program a couple of years ago called TODAY TONIGHT and it run a program about hight and wight size back in the early 1900's and the average wight on a men and women were lighter than us and they stated that on average they were not much difference in height the men were the same us todays men but on the other hand women were shorter than us. To go with that story you harldly ever see an obeast person in a 1900-1912 pic,If you watch programs they to run programs about obeasty once every two months.
    Well i have notice back in those days that most people are around the same height average and same wieght average.I have notice in todays world some people are really tall and then some are really short,some people are really fat and some are very skinny.
    In my eyes it was us that change and not them!
    What do you think?

  20. #20
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    Obese in 1912? Try President William Taft, the heaviest US president ever at more than 300 pounds.
    Dave Gittins
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    http://titanicebook.com/Book.html

  21. #21
    Alyson Jones
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    another poster before that stated what i'm trying to say-Obeasity is not a wide spread problem in 1912 as it is in today's world.

    300 pounds is nothing compared with todays obeasity of 600 pounds which i seen and heard about,and there is so many of them today than in 1912.
    Take a look at the first poste ron this page Robert,i heard the same thing about james cam had to make the grand stair case bigger cause of modern people being larger heavier than people back in 1912.
    Regards

  22. #22
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    And obesity in the Depression ..
    Try listening to Damon Runyon's A Piece of Pie in which Nicely Nicely Jones is entered by the gang in an eating contest against "a pleasant-looking judy with a face like a clock". Loads of other stories from On Broadway here, too. Sheer bliss.
    http://www.radiomickdanger.com/ListS...nyon%20Theater

  23. #23
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    Nature's blueprint for the Caucasian human male seems to specify an average height of around 5'9". The only periods in history when that hasn't been achieved are those where deprivations on a wide scale limited the potential to reach full development, as during the early stages of the urban/industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, when the average dropped to as low as 5'4". By 1912 conditions were much improved. The average height for men at that time in the UK and US was around 5'7", and it's now back to 5'9". These changes of course applied mainly to the working population. Those with sufficient wealth to avoid deprivations would not be affected.

    As for changes in average weight, that's harder to determine because there are no comparable statistics available, and you can't accurately determine weight from skeletal remains. Subjectively, I've studied thousands of photographs taken in and around 1912 and my impression is that the typical build of the period for young people was slim or athletic. Many of us (then as now) pile it on in later life, of course!

  24. #24
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    Alyson...reiterating. Fat was DESIRABLE in 1912. Fat meant you were going to live. "I can't wait to get my hands on him and fatten him up" was a standard old saw amongst courting women. The health risks attached to being corpulent were not as well understood as they now are, because the life expectancy hovered around 55 years old (56 in 1917) and people tended to die of ACUTE health problems long before chronic ones had a chance to develop. Everything fried was fried in lard; fatback was a dietary staple; butter was slathered on everything and, short of butter, lard could either be sugared or salted and used as a substitute spread....

    The reason one reads so little about 'obesity' in that era is that by today's standards most people WERE obese. What THEY called obese is what we now call morbidly obese:

    "The immense accretion of flesh which had descended on her in middle life like a flood of lava on a doomed city had changed her from a plump active litle woman with a neatly turned foot and ankle into something as vast and august as a natural phenomenon..." (Edith Wharton, in House of Mirth) a favorite Victorian obesity quote of mine....

    and what they viewed as healthy and plump is what we view as "seriously in need of dietary changes."

    Somehow in these junk food eating anti-biotic injecting "unhealthy" times we've managed to push life expectancy forward by almost thirty years.

    First acknowledgment I can find of anorexia/bulemia in the pop-press came in conjunction with the death of film star Barbara LaMarr in the 1920s. Her system gave out from a combination of drug abuse, alcoholism and health issues. Her studio gave a hint to what those "health issues" were by issuing a statement that she had died as the result of "Too Strenuous Dieting." So, between 1912 and 1926 something VERY ominous had happened regarding what constitued a healhy frame....

    Check out the Last Dinner on the Titanic cookbook. Certain recipes cause your arteries to harden as you READ them...particularly the potato based side dishes.

    If the staircase in the film was widened, it was PROBABLY because the actual dimensions of the structure were fairly compact...check out the few promo photos from the Olympic in which people appear on the staircase~ they ruin the sense of vastness by establishing scale.

  25. #25
    George L. Lorton
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    The boyish look of the 20's killed the fat/curvy look. Before this a plumpnish in woman as a desirability go back before the Renaissance. Due to the fact that a woman who was married was expected to have as many as 10 children in Medieval to the Gilded Age makes this makes sense. 5 was a small number. A woman needed the weight to help feed the baby that she was usually carrying in lean times. It must of really been the pits being pregnant every year.

    Jim is right a plump woman or hefty man were considered healthy.

  26. #26
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    >>Obeasity is not a wide spread problem in 1912 as it is in today's world. <<

    That, as Jim indicated, was because it wasn't seen as a problem. It was seen as a goal to be strived for and some did it in grand style. If some in the "lower classes" didn't always achieve it, it was because of the bone crushing and back breaking labour they often did just to make a living.

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    Annette Kellerman, at one time known as the "perfect woman" for her physique, illustrates the changing physical ideal at the beginning of the 20th Century. In early photos, c. 1900 to the early teens, she is what would today be considered rather full figured (and given she invented a form fitting swimsuit, you do get a good look at her figure!) with a bit of a "pigeon breast" bustline. She was, however, considered a very physically fit person. By 1916 and the filming of "Daughter of the Gods" she was *very* slim indeed, and photos of her from the 20s and later show a much leaner woman.

  28. #28
    Alyson Jones
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    Hi.This is forevery one.
    There would be a small morjuity of abeast people in 1912 i'm not denien it , but most people were of a healthy wieght,meanning women having blumichiuos curves and body fat, the size of an average 12- 14 women in todays standards.
    I did once see what a beuatiful wowmen was in 1900 and she had curves and her size was between 12-14,but in todays world that is fat but really it's an healthy natural wieght.
    It's really funnie, i can never find an obeast person in any 1900 photos and i have been looking for ages!which you guys are stating.
    I don't believe in obeasity in 1912 but i do beleive a small merjouity having that problem in 1912 and i believe curvy blumichious women were popular.
    There's something else i just thought about,why did women wear corsets to make themselfs slimmer but i thought women were more popular being a bit bigger?

  29. #29
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    Alyson-


    I don't know where you have done your visual sourcing for obese people, but there are plenty of them to be seen if, say, you look at wide shots taken above the Bowery out at Coney Island - you'll find quite a few rotund figures wading their way through the crowds out there.


    Heck - I've seen quite a few daguerreotype portraits just tonight of people who would have been considered "fat" then - even with the preferences of the time leaning towards the very heavy - and morbidly obese today. The look is... odd... to say the least - and spaniel curls of the 1840s do not look very flattering on a woman with a double chin with a corpulent waist in a pointed bodice.


    So if there were even a good number of obese people even at the dawn of photography (Actual conception in 1827, birth in 1839 - gestation in the intervening years. Portraits followed the next year) there could very well have been the same percentage, if not a larger one, by the 1910s.


    Flipside to that (I'm still on the Daguerrean tangent here, so keep thinking 1840s/1850s): Very slim women in extremely tight corsets with the constricting tailored bodices looked almost fake - like mannequins, the look was so unnatural. So there's two sides to it. Same can be said about the 1910s.


    Anyway. Rambling here. Haven't posted here in a good long while.

  30. #30
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    >>I don't believe in obeasity in 1912 <<

    "Believe in" really doesn't have anything to do with the reality I'm afraid. You might want to do some actual research of your own on this, starting with any statistical data you can find. You might be surprised at what you find.

    The notion that people in "The Good Old Days" somehow led healthier lives because of "natural" food and so on is a myth. A romantic myth, but still a myth.

  31. #31
    Alyson Jones
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    That's all right Brandon,i love talking about the Titanic era,anyways i ramble on all the time!
    Guys ,if you may why don't you chuck in some obeast photo's of people in 1912. I have only seen average size people in 1912 photo's,apart from M *Molly* brown
    Photo's never lie,unless there have been touched up by mordern technolghy lol.
    Any one can believe what they want to believe and i only believe, if you show me photo's of alot of really fat fat people in 1912, i would believe it.

  32. #32
    George L. Lorton
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    Roscoe 'Fatty' Arbuckle was around and making movie in 1912 and although he had the grace of a dancer and was light on his feet he was a hefty fellow. The word 'Fatty' was there for a reason.

  33. #33
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    Here's what I was talking about with Annette, Alyson.

    This is her as the Edwardian ideal:

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi..._Kellerman.jpg

    Another Edwardian image - narrow waist compared to full bust, hips and thighs:

    http://www.myfashion.mk/statii/Annette_Kellerman.jpg

    Then we see the change. This is her in silent film:

    http://www.wilsonsalmanac.com/images2/kellerman_a.jpg

    And again:

    http://i199.photobucket.com/albums/a...a/image001.jpg

    http://www.clinthickman.com/chp_aklink.JPG

    During all these periods, she was considered an ideal physical specimen (and at one stage was proclaimed the "world's most perfect woman" because of her physique). But look at how her body size changes according to what period the photos were taken in.

  34. #34
    Alyson Jones
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    Inger thank you. That's what i was trying to state,she sounds and looks like a curvy women which was popular in her day, which i was stating!Curvy bodies were very popular,and She is not at all obeast
    She very pretty lady,she could be like a model back in her day?

    Hi George,do you mean just a big bone man of his time?i do believe in big people of 1912 but i don't believe obeastity in 1912.Is there any pics of this man?

    Regards

  35. #35
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    >>Photo's never lie,unless there have been touched up by mordern technolghy lol.<<

    The photos you've seen reflect only a small sampling of what's out there and unfortunately, don't speak to photos which haven't survived.

    >>but i don't believe obeastity in 1912.<<

    What does "Believe in" have to do with anything?

  36. #36
    Alyson Jones
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    Micheal, There should be a couple of obeast people in photos of 1900 era that survived.I only need one pic to see of an obeast person for me to say that you guys are right,but if i never seen any pics, to me obeastity never exist in 1912.

    When i say *Beleive* it means my opinion or i'm right but since i respect you guys, it sounds nicer if i say believe and it won't upset you guys as much as my *opinion* and i'm *right*
    I don't like to up set you guys!

  37. #37
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    I think, Inger, that Annette was probably the Madonna of her day - constantly reinventing herself, though I personally think Madonna should stop now - right now. Muscle-bound and fanatical women of 50 are slightly spooky.

    There must have been obese people in 1912, Alyson, common sense tells you that. Maybe you don't see many photos of them because people prefer to take pics of attractive ones, and ordinary family photos don't survive quite so much in the public domain. Try a photo archive, such as the Hulton photo library. You can look, and only have to buy to use them in the media. And I expect women wore corsets then merely because all women did - it takes guts to say "No", especially if women who were not armour-plated were seen by men as 'loose'. I think rigid corsets probably disappeared as a result of WW1 (they'd probably have gone anyway in the end) as women would have found it difficult to drive ambulances, trucks, work on the land, make munitions etc., whilst encased in such garments. So fashion obligingly changes to favour more slender figures, less encumbered, and much freer.... and more useful.

    Working class women, of course, had always had lives of hard labour and constant childbirth, and you were most likely to survive this if you had a substantial body weight and musculature. I, for example, would probably not survive one morning's washing and mangling, and would be found drooped over the dolly-tub pleading to be allowed to get back teaching / researching. Both my grandmothers would be most derisive.

  38. #38
    Alyson Jones
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    Hey guys
    Have i ever stated in one of my posts that women were thin back in those days?which i never stated.
    I have always stated that women were 12 -14 with big curves.
    I have stated before i seen a program which was about wieght comparing 1900 too 2000.They even had a graph showing on the screen.
    It intercated that we are much bigger that our ancesters.
    Mens stomachs are much bigger than before
    Womens hips and generally are bigger than before.

    Regards

  39. #39
    Alyson Jones
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    Hi again-I have been on the net for hrs and hrs and hrs typing in obeseity in 1912!found one article of one lady,Something to do with Obeseity cure.No photos and only one article,nothing else at all.I even type in obeseoty 1912 photo's, all i got was mordern fat obese models.That turn me right off abit lol.
    Regards


    I can't see any problem about obeseity

  40. #40
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    Well, Alyson, we can't have you losing sleep looking for photos of Edwardian fatties, so here are a couple for you. These two were snapped in Germany, home of the hamburger!



    But I don't offer this in support of any theory that obesity was widespread on 1912. You can only draw conclusions of that kind from the study of very large numbers of un-posed crowd scenes which show ordinary people in workplaces, city streets, schoolrooms, crowds on holiday and at sporting events etc etc. In the UK we have an abundance of such material, like the Hulton (Getty) archives and the documentary films of Mitchell & Kenyon, in which can be seen tens of thousands of ordinary anonymous British people engaged in their everyday lives. Far more useful for drawing general conclusions about body types within a population than any amount of reference to wealthy minorities or to celebrities, movie stars, fashion ideals etc.

    It's from study of resources such as those that I can say with certainty that in England in 1912 a lean and hungry look was the norm. Probably because most of us didn't have much choice in those days (or for decades to come). In the USA, where wages were higher and food cheaper, the situation might well have been different. Clearly our American members here take the view that it was. I've not studied American social archives for the period, so I'm not qualified to comment on that.
    .

  41. #41
    George L. Lorton
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    Here's what I was talking about with Annette, Alyson.
    Here indeed, Inger! I see what you were talking about.

    Annette Kellerman, now there's a Woman. Annette in her famous skin tight swimsuit.



    And in this publicity Photo for 'Daughter of The Gods' Fox Studios 1916. That she was indeed. In both of those she sure was curvy but Annette's the perfect example of the Edwardian Male's Dream Woman. Stop drooling Geo. Can't help but blush cause she's so lush!

    Actually Miss Kellerman was an early spokeswoman for fitness after a childhood illness made her go the distance athletically. The distance she really went too.

  42. #42
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    Hey Allison -


    The Library of Congress has a great collection of news-photography glass negatives which can be seen on the easy-to-use, easy-to-navigate photo-site Flickr. So I've gone through their Bain News Service archives (all glass negatives in the collection date from about 1909 to 1915 - so right there in what some people like to call the 'Titanic Era.') and here's some examples I've found:


    Sir William J. Bull - a British solicitor and conservative politician - photographed around 1910:


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3267/...4c1023dbe7.jpg


    Here's somebody lots of people would recognize - J.P. Morgan. He's got a bit of a spare tire on him:


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3144/...e2ec9e437a.jpg


    Heck - look at Teddy Roosevelt, and the guy next to them, their 'heft' is pretty comparable to those of today:

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3256/...9b7b11a8_o.jpg


    Madame Nordica: Ca. 1912


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3117/...1e49561618.jpg


    D. G. Reid, the "Tinplate" king:


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3158/...8d9b8cb7c0.jpg


    Mrs. Cortelyou - photographed entering Church, Ca. 1910


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3197/...f42d3876_o.jpg


    Even some of our track and field team at the 1912 Olympics were hefty


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3257/...756646ae_o.jpg


    Have a look at the crowd going to the Syracuse Convention on September 4th, 1912:


    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2002/...efb5691e_o.jpg



    Senators Penrose and Oliver:


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3197/...2e3be8c0ea.jpg


    Taft, in the round... heh...


    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2302/...1facba75_o.jpg


    James Hill and colleague:


    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2074/...45772070_o.jpg


    Sir George Reid and Mrs. Oliver Johnson - have a look at some of the members in the crowd in the background.


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3119/...ec865fd0_o.jpg


    What better example could one give of a big guy from the 1910s then heavyweight wreslter Stanislaus Zbyszko?


    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2380/...1d0c4ee851.jpg


    Or Hermann Gassler?


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3042/...c73a941db2.jpg


    ______________________



    Now for Ideals, Let's have a look at a couple more links, shall we?


    Lily Smith would have a desirable figure for the 1910s - until the boyish look would come in:


    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2007/...6169c722_o.jpg


    As would swimmer Rosa Pitonof


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3269/...7e9e8d17cd.jpg


    Jim Lemm would probably be a good example of what would be considered the ideal figure for men at the time:


    http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2270/...c8f5131bce.jpg


    As would the Estonian wrestler George Lurich:


    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3085/...8bc5174b11.jpg



    So there you have it. All these examples come from just ONE enormous collection of press photos - that's just a tiny fraction of what's out there.

  43. #43
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    The full figured woman, and man in fact, is the next step in the progression from the earlier Victorian ideal...the Cult of the Invalid.

    You recall...the dreary pre Civil war phase where "Wasting illness" was considered romantic. A sign of the True Woman and True Male Artist if you will. At that point, the pale emaciated Victorian woman who had an Invalid Couch in her house really existed. Her sturdier precedents, like First Lady Sarah Polk were slender but not sickly. Then, look at the 20 years that followed Sarah. Mrs. Lincoln, for all her unpopularity, was the first Presidental wife in a generation who did not come to the White House with a sickbed. And, she DID mark the point where the frail woman wasting away became passe.

    Women, after the Civil War, can be seen engaging in all manner of healthy activities in old photos (rowing; hiking; tennis; biking) and got a LOT bigger. Swooning and fainting and sinking on to the couch began being mocked, in print, around 1870.

    But, as I said earlier, the fact that people died in their early fifties of acute causes makes it hard to track the negative side of the sudden shift from sickly to Amazonian. The effects of all but morbid obesity BEGIN manifesting themselves at that age, and so the average hefty Victorian woman or portly Victorian man ws dead of something else before the health problems created by excess girth had a chance to kill them.

  44. #44
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    Did you notice how tiny the shoes of Mrs. Cortelyou's daughter are? Or Hermann Gassler's.

    I also wonder who was wearing the tea dresses with 20-22 inches waist being sold on ebay? One of my female friends is one of the tiniest young women of her age I can, and even when I lace her in a corset, her waist still measures about 27 inches, and she looks so skinny! So how had the edwardian ladies looked like? We are talking about fat people, but the clothes that are being sold on ebay would not fit to the most of males or females I can, even the more petite ones.

  45. #45
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    >and even when I lace her in a corset, her waist still measures about 27 inches,

    Because you cannot corset someone, with proper compression, for the Edwardian hourglass figure who hasn't already been 'broken in.' It's a step up from bound feet, but only just.

    Your friend's abdomen is too muscular.

    If you had a daughter, as an experiment, at the onset of puberty you COULD begin crushing her abdomen inward, just as our foremothers did (in many cases women slept in their corsets to'keep their figure') with the subsequent damage to their underlying musculature and bowels. Then, as an adult she could be properly laced and compressed.


    But, it's not something you just step into and do.

  46. #46
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    Oh, yes, I can see, you are right. It is actually a ca. 1912-14 corset with straight front and it goes slightly over the hips. I would say it is rather a corset that creates the "Empire" figure, with high waist and straight hips... But I still can not imagine that the edwardian women have been so petite. It is just... bizarre. I always considered that friend of mine as petite ad skinny, but even the bust of a dress that could fit her is almost too small and the skirt is too short, so it was not only the waist that was that tiny, it was the whole figure in general.

  47. #47
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    It's not so much "petite" as it was "mutilated." If your waist was compressed to, say, 20 inches, when you were 15, and this was done every day until you were bearing children, you'd have something akin to muscular atrophy across your entire midsection. Same as with a bound foot.

    To get...indelicate ....there were a host of medicines targeted at women, thru magazines, aimed at helping the..startling...array of bowel problems resultant from severly compressed intestines and slack-to-nonfunctioning muscles. Sure, her waist was tiny, but chronic constipation; its evil opposite twin irritable bowel; embarrasing uncontrolled flatulence, and best of all, bleeding lesions in the colon were the price milady paid for that figure.

  48. #48
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    Oh my Good... The friend of mine said she is not able to hiccough, cough, or laugh loud. When she asked me "what did the edwardian ladies do when...?" I said "nothing". The physical needs were unimportant.

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    >When she asked me "what did the edwardian ladies do when...?" I said "nothing".

    Sometimes nothing. Sometimes quite the opposite.

  50. #50
    George L. Lorton
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    Sure, her waist was tiny, but chronic constipation; its evil opposite twin irritable bowel; embarrassing uncontrolled flatulence, and best of all, bleeding lesions in the colon were the price milady paid for that figure.
    Thats because Corsets are evil and unnatural. I'm thankful that at least my G-Grandmother only spent only 10 years in them at the most. Although one of my grandmothers who had three cesareans in the 40's wore corslets (mini-corset) and that is one of the reasons she is no longer with us. Corsets and there ilk are the devils dieting plan.

  51. #51
    Alyson Jones
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    Corsets are bad for the rib cage aswell i heard, but it did make you're rack nice!lol.
    Were lucky us girls today, we can wear corsets for a specical event but then we can choose not to wear them ever again.

    Brendan, there was fat people in 1912 i agree, but there still not obese or obese like in todays standards.
    But i am shock thy are a little big bigger than i expected though.
    Take a look at the modern obese photos of pepole and you'll see that 1912 fat people are only big boned or fat!Thanks for suppling some photos.

  52. #52
    George L. Lorton
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    Thanks for supplying some photos.
    You're Welcome.

    Corsets do make you assets look nice but a bra works just as well from what I've seen and doesn't cause havoc with you abdominal muscles and wall.

  53. #53
    Alyson Jones
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    True,I have no idea how women wore corsets day after day after day.I did hear women in those days died early from wearing corsets?

  54. #54
    George L. Lorton
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    Hi Alyson, Women were broken into wearing a corset as early as 12 years of age in some cases. Like Jim said it a step up from bound feet.

  55. #55
    Alyson Jones
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    (a step up from bound feet)what does that mean?

  56. #56
    George L. Lorton
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    Bound feet was a practice where young girls learning to walk in China had their feet bound in bandages to make the foot smaller.

    Unfortunately it also made it hard for the girls to walk. To try to run must of been agony, and also deformed the foot.

  57. #57
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    OBESITY 1905 ADVERT: I had to dig this out, but KNEW I had it. A Kellogg's flyer:

    View Image

    which, among other things, shows that 'starvation diets' were well enough known in 1905 to warrant inclusion in the headline, AND that the dangers of various weight loss schemes were ALSO known to women of the era.

    Also, interesting to note...although kind of gross...three of the Jack the Ripper victims were obese (Tabram/ Nichols/Chapman) while ONE was emaciated (Eddowes) one was of seemingly healthy body weight (Stride) and one was unclassifiable (Kelly). So, even amongst the lowest of the poor, in this TOTALLY random sampling, 50% were obese while only one showed signs of food deprivation.

  58. #58
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    Kelly was described as healthy at one time in White Chapel by neighbors. There an illustration of her as she was in life done for the Police Gazette. Of course after she lived there a while as an alcoholic her weight would probably fluctuate because of her life style. The illustration can be found here.

    !WARNING! Page contains gruesome crime scene photography of Miss Kelly after her Brutal Murder. http://www.casebook.org/victims/mary_jane_kelly.html

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    Thing about Mary Kelly is that even people who KNEW her gave opposing descriptions. Some said she was 5' 7", slender, and fair. Others said she was short and stout, with fair hair. The only agreement, in any descriptions, are that she was "pretty" and had fair hair. Some said she had a lisp. Others said she affected a French accent, while still others described a brogue. She claimed to be from Ireland, but also claimed to be from Wales. No family ever came forward, so her true identity remains unknown.

    Interesting to note, as well, is that the only Ripper victim who was known to have been engaging in healthy activity prior to her death (The emaciated Katharine Eddowes, who had been doing farm work ~ hop picking~ until the week of her murder) was in worse physical shape than even Annie Chapman. Chapman, although terminally ill and an alcoholic, STILL managed to maintain what was then called a 'fine stout figure.'

  60. #60
    George L. Lorton
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    I guess there's something about Mary. I guess it depends on who was being interviewed on Mary's height. To some tall people she might of appeared small. Or to a short person she might of appeared tall. Also on her weight living in Whitechapel probably sucked the fat right off her as she lived there and as her alcoholism progressed. Alcoholics aren't know generally for their appetites.

    Eddowes was slender because Hop Picking is hard work. Burned all the fat off the lady.

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    >>I really appreciate if anyone here helps me to find out what should be my weight?<<

    You really need to consult with a qualified medical professional on that. That ain't us!

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael H. Standart View Post
    >>I really appreciate if anyone here helps me to find out what should be my weight?<<

    You really need to consult with a qualified medical professional on that. That ain't us!
    Unfortunately I can't help Bella either (although I do welcome a fellow Australian to the boards), but just on the original subject, i've read many accounts from the Victorian era which suggested that anyone over about 5'10 in height was very tall, and over 6' was a monster. Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, was around the 6' mark if I remember correctly and he stood out everywhere he went.

    These days 6' is still reasonably tall but also extremely common.

    As for weight, I agree with the earlier posts that obesity was nowhere near the major issue it is these days. The arrival of fast food has a lot to answer for.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    >>The arrival of fast food has a lot to answer for.<<

    If you were to couple that with a more sedentary lifestyle, I would agree. Unfortunately, people still like to eat as if they were going to be spending an entire sweaty day working a farm, when the hardest work they're doing is punching a keyboard.

    The meals that were common over a century ago could be huge and calorie laden to a degree which would make a McDonalds supersized everything look like diet food, BUT the people who ate such meals also typically burned it off with prodigious physical labour.

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Went
    The arrival of fast food has a lot to answer for.
    Not as much as it is blamed.

    Living conditions in 1912 were miserable. People were likely thin because they had trouble getting enough to eat. Now, for the first time in world history, having too much to eat is a major problem. That others could have this problem, too! I wish I could point you to a specific chapter in Das Kapital, but one only needs to read Karl Marx's description of a working man's living conditions to see the appalling lifestyle of most city residents in the 1860's, with people using indoor cabinets a bit less sanitary than a modern outhouse. Living with half a dozen people or more in what would amount to a modern studio apartment or smaller, some possibly sick with a contagious disease. People lucky to eat meat once a week, or month, or even less than that. The Titanic was an unheard of luxury, with second class passengers getting rooms of equal opulence to what first class passengers had on other ships. The Olympic class were the first ships with an elevator for second class passengers. Third class passengers had actual staterooms instead of open berthing. The Titanic was a palace.

    The quality of human living was brought up immensely by the Industrial Revolution. I would say it's less accurate that fast food is making us fat, than that people are actually being properly fed now.

  65. #65
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    Michael:

    Well, those who did not labour hard even back in the Edwardian era still had to walk everywhere, unless they were one of the lucky few who owned a car. That's not to say that obese people didn't exist in that period because of course they did, as they have done for every generation throughout history. Obesity is not necessarily always the result of what you eat, it can be a genetic or medical issue as well.

    However, the knowlege about calories and recommended daily intakes and all the rest simply didn't exist, or wasn't adhered to, at that time. These days people are much more conscious of it but of course the fast food generation is here and there is a difference between being aware of the problem, and dealing with the problem.

    The range of unhealthy food which one could eat in 1912 did not exist to the extent that it does now.

    Tim:

    I don't think you can really use the work of somebody like Marx as an accurate historical reference; the man had a very strong agenda. Of course there were people who lived that way but such works don't show every angle of the story.

    I also have to disagree that there is too much to eat these days - look at the poorest third world countries on the globe, there are starving people everywhere and people living on borderline of famine and poverty. World population has spiked enormously in the past century or so and as much of a problem as it is now, there will come a time when the world simply cannot produce enough food to feed everyone on the planet. Food is already expensive, it will become even more expensive as the problem expands and will send more and more people into the territory of famine.

    Already you find many, many people who 10 or 20 years ago were living comfortable lives who are now struggling to keep it together.

    Whereas in the time of the Titanic, the world population meant food and, subsequently, health was much more sustainable. The setback was that the technology did not exist to analyse it all as they do now. Of course that started to change following World War I and then the Great Depression and so forth, but in 1912 things were still looking alright.

    People eat fast food all the time now. It's not a once a week type thing, people virtually live off the stuff. We all live such busy lifestyles now that nobody has the time or motivation to cook a healthy lunch or dinner, so it's off to McDonald's or KFC or any number of fast food chains for a feed. That is not a proper diet and it plays a huge role in a number of health problems that exist in the world today, which only begins with obesity.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    >>That's not to say that obese people didn't exist in that period because of course they did, <<

    Google up "Diamond Jim" Brady sometime. I think you'll be amused! ;-)

    >>The range of unhealthy food which one could eat in 1912 did not exist to the extent that it does now.<<

    Oh it existed to a substantial extent. No doubt about that!

    The thing is that the calorie laden stuff that trendy diet fads see as unhealthy...whether they were unhealthy or not...were much of a problem since any surplus calories tended to get burned off real quick by your average working Jane or Joe.

    There were other kinds of unhealthy however. Food poisoning was a substantial problem because of the lack of any enforced standards for food safety. As the saying goes, red meat isn't bad for you. Blue-green meat, that's bad for you!

    And there was a lot of that blue green meat running around!

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    You'll have to forgive me, I enjoy quoting Marx.

    Marx certainly had an agenda, and he may have made the problem seem more common that it was, but I would tend to take his side in this case. Marx's flaws tended to be in logical analysis, but he seemed to have been quite the research hound. While it may not have been as extensive as he implied, I am fairly certain that it was as bad. When it comes to Marx, even he had a bit of the nostalgia for the "healthier times of the past". There are various psychological and social factors that lead to the "good old days" mythos. For example, as children, we aren't particularly aware of our surroundings. As we grow older, we learn of what's going on around us. We suddenly see things in the world and feel that things are going down hill, when in fact they are the same as they were before, we just didn't notice. We have children, and tell them about how good things were "back then". Our children figure that times are really bad now, and ok when they were growing up, and things must have been really great back in the "good old days". A few generations of this and you end up with Atlantis. Nostalgia has such a wonderful effect on history.

    In any event, food is much more available now, and to more people, that it was in 1912. I won't go into modern economics, but I don't think comparing now to 10 years ago is a terribly revealing exercise, due to abnormalities caused by the recessions.

    Regarding a global food shortage due to population- Thomas Malthus proposed that idea in, I believe, 1798, making it now 215 years and 6 billion people later.

    And as to all of the countries where people are starving - they aren't having an epidemic of obesity. The United States is quite a different story.

  68. #68
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    I do certainly agree with Marx's nostalgia over the "healthier times of the past", the poor guy died from exahustation after reading and researching for more than 12 hours a day for a very long time in the poor conditions of the London Library. To that you have to add that he didn't earn that much (he survived mostly on the monetary aid provided by Engels) and his health must have been pretty poor.

    Regarding the food issue, it is true that the overall food-production has increased over the years, but you have to remember that in the world we are living every product has a price, and as long as it has it, there is going to be a lot of people who won't be able to afford it.

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    Hi all,

    Michael:

    I google "Diamond Jim".....yes, indeed he was, uhh, stout?

    Again, of course unhealthy food existed in 1912 and there was not the regulations on food safety or keeping food at the correct temperatures, etc etc as there is now BUT it is undeniable that the average person weighed much less in the Edwardian era than they do now. And it can't all be put down to "Oh well they worked harder and longer hours" because I can assure you that even now there's many people who work long, hard hours who are still quite obese. And I would suggest that in the majority of cases the reason for this would be that what body fat they work off, gets immediately put back on again by an unhealthy choice of lifestyle. If you work long and hard hours, it's not like the "old days" when you'd go home and the wife who stayed at home looking after the kids would have prepared a great meal for you; she's probably working now too - you've got to, in this equal opportunity but economically difficult time. So what do you do? Instead of taking another couple of hours to prepare a healthy meal, it's off to grab a burger and fries or something that can be heated in the microwave in a couple of minutes.

    And, in addition to that, fatty, unhealthy take away food is alarmingly cheap. It's enormously quicker and cheapear than going to a restaurant, for example, and eating a more healthy lunch. This is especially a problem for the younger generations because they are normally short on cash, and fast food joints give them the opportunity to socialise and eat a cheap, fatty lunch at the same time. So they do it often. And then they get obese. And then they get medical problems. And, hey presto, here we are in 2013....

    Tim:

    I've actually recently been studying the works of Marx for a university degree i'm undertaking - along with a number of other philosophers, politicians and thinkers throughout history. It was interesting to note that Marx was largely ignored and ostracised during his own lifetime; it was only after his death that he achieved the full extent of his fame. And that is a recurring theme throughout history - those thinkers who have been brave enough to suggest radical things have a core group of supporters but aside from that they largely get ostracised.

    I don't disagree with a lot of Marx's works but they most definitely have an agenda to them - a radical agenda - and as such they can not be seen to be fully objective views on the society in which Marx lived. He saw the best and worst of it in terms of funneling that into his own beliefs and subsequent writings.

    Food IS much more available now BUT it is more processed - the planet is struggling to cope with population growth vs. natural resources.

    Interesting also that you mention Thomas Malthuis. Have you read Dan Brown's new novel "Inferno"?. He features in that. Whilst it IS a novel it provides some interesting food for thought on the scientific and mathematical points of human population growth vs. sustainability of the planet.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    I'm not here to debate politics.

    I don't think you would argue that people were wealthier and food was more available (in obesity-plagued nations) 100 years ago.

    In any event, I have already pointed out the historical-social bias that leads people to think things were better in the past. No doubt, fast food is a contributing factor to obesity, but it is not the only factor. Struggling for food has long been a part of human existence. The abundance of food in this century has made it possible for large numbers of people to eat overly well. There are worse problems to have. We could go back to meatless diets and sawdust-adulterated bread. I'm certain that would make people thinner.

  71. #71
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    >>I google "Diamond Jim".....yes, indeed he was, uhh, stout?<<

    That's putting it mildy. He was also a notorious trencherman. One who took overeating to hights not seen even in some of the more ridiculous eating contests out there.

    >> And it can't all be put down to "Oh well they worked harder and longer hours" because I can assure you that even now there's many people who work long, hard hours who are still quite obese.<<

    Might be wise to put it in context. The long hard hours of today are nothing like they were a century ago. We have a lot of labour saving devices that they could only dream of back then. The long hard hours included manual labor which we have no concept of now.

  72. #72
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    Tim:

    It was you who referenced Marx, which in turn is a reference to a political or ideological viewpoint. I was simply responding to that.

    I agree with you that there often tends to be a skewed view that life was better in the "good old days".

    IMHO, the problem we have today is that it has become more and more difficult to lead a fully healthy lifestyle. As i've alluded to before, it's not like 50, 60, 70 years ago where the man of the house would go off to work and then come home to a nicely prepared and wholesome meal from his wife. Everybody works now when they're capable of doing so - the cost of living means that families who aren't well off don't have a say in that anymore.

    And fatty foods are generally much, much cheaper than healthy foods. For instance, if you can go to a fast food restaurant and buy a $1 cheeseburger (as you can in many major fast food chains), or prepare yourself a healthier snack that might cost $10, what's the choice going to be? It seems to me that obesity is as much a financial issue as anything else these days. If you do that several days per week, every week, then sure the bank account might be in better shape but the human body will not be.

    Many people still exercise but if you're eating fatty foods regularly around the same time, you're basically only cancelling the other out.

    So, in short, people 100 years ago were generally in better shape because they had more opportunity to eat healthier foods, and a greater ability within their workplace and so forth to exercise any of "bad stuff" off.

    Michael:

    Very true. Which is what I refer to above - people had a greater ability to eat differently to what we do today, and whether they were conscious of it or not, a greater ability to stay in good shape.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TimTurner View Post
    I'm not here to debate politics.

    I don't think you would argue that people were wealthier and food was more available (in obesity-plagued nations) 100 years ago.

    In any event, I have already pointed out the historical-social bias that leads people to think things were better in the past. No doubt, fast food is a contributing factor to obesity, but it is not the only factor. Struggling for food has long been a part of human existence. The abundance of food in this century has made it possible for large numbers of people to eat overly well. There are worse problems to have. We could go back to meatless diets and sawdust-adulterated bread. I'm certain that would make people thinner.
    I agree with you up to certain point. Regardless of the situation, it is common for us to complain about everthing. If there is food aplenty, we complain of the people getting too fat. If there is not enough food, we also complain. However those are important things, which I consider very important to discuss. The survival of the human race in a coherent and healthy way in this planet is not something that should be overlooked.

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    Sorry this post comes off as a little curt, it's not my intent, and I enjoy a friendly discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Augusto Félix Solari View Post
    So, in short, people 100 years ago were generally in better shape because they had more opportunity to eat healthier foods, and a greater ability within their workplace and so forth to exercise any of "bad stuff" off.
    I disagree with your conclusion. The fact that fatty foods today are cheaper than healthy foods today does not lead to the conclusion that healthy foods were cheaper in the past.

    People were not as healthy in the past. Looking at life statistics from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/lifetab...-61_1_1acc.pdf)... For example, on page 30/31 (Table 12), you see can a comparison of life expectancies. In 1911, the average life expectancy at birth of a white male was about 50 years, up from 48 years a decade before. By the 1960's, it had increased to 67 years. Looking at other reports from the same source (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr57/nvsr57_01.pdf Table 5), by 2001, the average white male life expectancy was 74. That's a 50% increase in life expectancy. I think that's a better indicator of health than height-to-weight ratio.

    People were not healthier in the past. The simpler, easier lifestyle people enjoyed back then was not simpler and easier, we've just forgotten the details due to nostalgia and the faults of communal memory. Healthy food was not more available then. All types of food are more available now, including both healthy and unhealthy foods. I haven't vetted this website, but there's an interesting graph, second from the bottom (The price of a loaf of bread in the 18th and 19th centuries). It charts the price of bread for about 250 years from about 1575 to about 1825. Based on the rough assumption of the article, an average man in 1575 would have paid about 30% of his income for his daily bread. By 1825, he would have paid about 10-12%. Today, figuring about $1 per pound of bread, and $30,000 per year for the average laborer, the same amount of bread would cost about 2.5% of his salary.

    I'm not sure I need to go so far as to document working conditions in 1912. They were not pleasant or particularly healthful for most laborers. Rather than "healthy exercise", I would prefer the term "grueling exertion".

    People in the past were in "better shape" because you are using a single measurement - height-to-weight ratio - to measure health. Weight is an indicator of health, but it is not the only indicator.

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    Augusto:

    The discussion of the survival of the human race is as important as ever as the world population continues to skyrocket, driving demand and prices upward at a time when it can least be afforded.

    Tim:

    No need to apologise, I enjoy a robust discussion as well.

    Whilst I appreciate the statistics you've found, I would strongly suggest that the lesser life expectancy rates in times gone by have very little to do with the food that was being eaten and a lot more to do with the lack of medicine and proper medical facilities.

    These days we can be immunised against countless numbers of diseases which killed people in extroardinary numbers a hundred years ago. Just like we can be treated and cured for a number of conditions which would have meant almost certain death in the time of the Titanic.

    So while people are much more unhealthy now than they were on average a hundred years ago, the medical technology exists to cope with it for the most part - which is a good thing in some ways but bad in others, because as a people we can become more complacent about what we put into our bodies because "oh, the doctor will be able to fix it."

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    Perhaps,

    but I like being complacent about food, shelter, and basic medical needs. I prefer to focus my time and talents on other things than basic survival.

    From what I've read, I'd be extremely hesitant to say that people had a more healthful diet. I think that conclusion comes from assumptions about what was available, and in what quantities.

  77. #77
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    "I'd be extremely hesitant to say that people had a more healthful diet. I think that conclusion comes from assumptions about what was available, and in what quantities."

    Can't find much wrong with that!

    As one who survived the deprivations of WW2 in Europe..who was at work over 60 years ago and worked up until very recently... Also one whose father and father-in-law were very much alive at the time of Titanic. (The latter served from 1914 to 1918).. I may have a a bit of input which might shed a little light on this subject.

    Way back in 1912 and until well after 1945, the ordinary man-in-the-street was referred to as a "common five-eight". That's 5 feet 8 inches tall in old money and 1.72m tall in the new-fangled stuff.

    Eating was something you did to fill your gut.. not something that gave you much pleasure or an occupation at which you spent very much time.


    Food started-off as basic and has now reached rediculous heights of anonimity. What we eat now is what marketing people and entrepreneureal geniuses have decided we should eat.

    At one end of the scale, the modern, self-styed gourmet is quite happy to pay a zillion Bucks, Pounds or Euros for a large soup plate containing a pool of strange looking eau-de-nil gunge in the center of which is located a minute island of over-toasted bread and an anchovey. There may even be a 'drizzle' of pink or orange yuch! surrounding the island out of which ( if he is conned into paying a zillion-and-a-half bucks) will protrude a tasteless 'pretzel'. Mmmmmmm for mug?

    At the other end of the scale, the 'common five-eight' might be asked for a dollar, pound or Euro for an enormous, doughy bun between the dry inner faces of which will be contained a flat, taseless conglomerate of meat mixed with 90% soya. This will be artistically sandwiched between a couple of slices of wet, limp, tasteless processed material disguised as cheese. The lot will lie on a bed of green stuff which might be anything but is called lettuce.
    Without the addition of salt. pepper, mayo, ketchup and Bar-B-Q sauce the entire 'lump' would taste like your old auntie's setee cushion.

    Sure, tastes do change. But do they have to be eradicated?

    This is what we've come to. We believe almost anything a good marketing team tell us. We don't want to, or have the time to think about, what we might prefer to eat, we let others do it for us (at a price). Yet we have time to sit in front of a computer, talk endless rubbish on an electronic deviced perpetually glued to an ear or listen for hours to a mindless moron with a baseball cap on side-ways. Wearing droopy pants and frequently clutching his testicals with one hand and pointing with the other; this vision of masculinity chants, endless, monotonous, meaningless drivel. Compared to this, the works of McGonigal would sound like Keates.

    To make comparisons, between the old days and the present or between anything old and new, you have to sample both. Sure you can read what someone else wrote about it but that's not comparing like-for-like.

    Have any of you ever thought of how an accountant or economist would devope a food recipe? If you have, then you know why, despite the plethora of choice of food we now have; we seldom have keep true favourite for long.
    In the slim chance that we do find something we really like the tate of, it's not long before we are asking ourselves "what have they done with this?"

    Just a few cynical observations.

    Jim C.

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    Jim and Tim:

    First of all, great post and very interesting thoughts, Jim.

    As far as diets go, just to cite one example, if you read the works of somebody like Henry Mayhew, an early sociologist who mingled with and interviewed the poorest residents of London around the mid-1800's and relayed his work in a massive and insightful volume called "London Labour and the London Poor", which I have in my collection and have studied several times, you will find that the extremely common foods which were consumed by the poorer families of that time consisted primarily of bread, fish and potato. Occasionally - say, once a week - if they could afford it, they would treat themselves to meat.

    Now while this isn't a particularly well balanced diet, it's certainly not a "bad" diet - not by modern standards anyway. I would suggest that this process would be replicated for most of the poor around the world at that time.

    As for the richer folk, they could afford better food, but then the richer folk could partake in fine dining and personalised diets too. The line between rich and poor was much more vast back then than it is now.

    But, at risk of going too far off track, my point simply is that if you actually study these people and listen to what they themselves had to say, their diets were quite simple and basic for the most part. And the reason that they usually died at such a young age shouldn't be attributed so much to what they were ingesting as to the living and medical conditions of the era in which they lived.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    Thanks Adam.

    As an uncouth-youth, I was extremely lucky to have a very elderly maiden aunt who had a mind like an encyclopedia and a memory to match. As a bonus, her party-piece was telling stories of her youth. She was born in rural Scotland in the mid 1880's.
    One particular story stands out.
    We were discussing the common man's gourmet meal of fish and chips and how Italian immigrants to Scotland had raised the production of the delacy to an art-form which was entirely the case.
    However my aunt Meg revealed that in fact, way back in the dark days, poor Scottish people regularly ate fish- suppers. These were sold from market stalls and consisted of fresh salmon (which was abundant in all our rivers) and boiled potatoes.

    My paternal family are from the island of Islay in the Inner Hebrides. My grandfather used to say that he would never let a limpet pass his lips because limpets were the food of the poor. Nor would he eat prawns because he considered them lice.
    I now live in Madeira where limpets are considered a luxury on restuarant menues. We all know the place that prawns now have at the high table.

    During WW2, all our food was basic and rationed. Apart from the obvious problems all-out war brings; the main problems of ill-health were childhood illnesses such as measles(both kinds), whopping cough, mumps, chicken pox and scarlet fever. I had all ot rhe above, some of them more than once yet I have, until now enjoyed a pretty healthy life. I even started smoking at 14 years old but gave that up and took to drink instead. Never could see the point in being out of my box with strange substances in pill, smoke or powder form.
    Everything except the last three are OK in moderation. That goes for food as well.

    Just joking,

    Jim

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    If I remember right Mayhew commented that pies were another staple of the diet of the London poor, who preferred fruit to meat in their pies because it was safer as well as cheaper. And well-stewed fruit at that. The Victorians maintained the old tradition that fresh fruit and vegetables, if they didn't provide you with some kind of infection, would at the very least deliver a dose of flatulence, indigestion or diarrhoea. Or maybe all three. Mrs Beeton recommended that carrots, for instance, should not pass her readers' lips until they (the carrots, that is) had been boiled for an absolute minimum of two hours. Such over-cooking removed much of the nutrient value of fruit and veg as well as the pleasure of eating it. Meat of course was always cooked and therefore pre-digested so regarded as less damaging to the digestive tract than raw veg, and was hopefully not too badly tainted provided the bits with suspicious and unusual colouring were scraped off first. Across the Channel, where the climate was warmer, meat and fish were more often 'on the turn' when they went into the pot, so the French developed their tradition of rich sauces to disguise the age of the meat.

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    It probably helps that Limpet appear to be native to Scotland and not to Madeira. At least today we are saved the indignity of sawdust bread.

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    Hello Tim.

    Actually some of the paper-wrapped things that are supplied as bread nowadays are more like cake.

    During WW2. the bread came in two versions.. Plain or Pan. Plain was supplied from the baker in the form of Siamese quinquan quatever lengths and you broke-off a loaf. Each loaf had a top and bottom-- Black and White-- crust. The bit in the middle was as sort of off-grey colour. But the tase was pretty good if you toasted a slice on a fork in front of the fire then plastered the end result with butter (if you could get any). In fact a big chunk of that bread 'naked' and dipped in home-made soup was a dream to be remembered. It did not have any added ingredients. Just flour, water, salt and yeast. No added sugar, preservatives or any other such crap. It dried-up and turned blue if you didn't eat it the same day it was baked. I'm afraid you can keep all that 'stuff' they sell nowadays. Come to think of it, we used to get a halpenny dry roll from the baker's van when it came round the school. It was a whole penny for a Paris Bun.(when they had them).
    Sweets(candy) and fruit, other than sour apples and hard pears were a fond memory. We did occassionally get a food parcel from my auntie in Philladelphia. It sometimes contained sweets and cigarettes but only if the dockers hadn't got to the parcels first.

    Must look at the country of origin for these limpets. You can buy them here in the supermarkets. They're sold loose and you can have a shovel-full if that's your 'bag'.

    Live is so boring nowadays. Too much to chose from. To much temptation to sit back on your back-side , not bother to think and let others do the thinking for you.

    God! I'm a boring old git!

    Jim.

    PS before you write it after that last remark Bob I'll write it for you.."Well you said it"

  83. #83
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    No worries, Jim, I'm a boring old git too so I lap this stuff up! Did you experience compo tea? Came with the army's 'composite ration' packs, but probably found its way into civilian kitchens. Compressed blocks of tea leaves, sugar and powdered milk which were crumbled into boiling water and stewed for a few minutes. Few have fond memories of it, but it was hot and wet so it did the job. I remember my grandmother kept a kettle boiling on the 'range' in the back parlour virtually all the time, but though there were frequent servings of tea nobody was ever allowed a second cup. She bought a bottle of milk on Sundays as a special treat, but for the rest of the week she used condensed milk in her tea - cheaper and it was sweet, so she saved on sugar. In my own time (early '50s) we used to have a breakfast of corn flakes in the summer or porridge in the winter. Then a pretty good dinner (at what would now be called lunchtime), which was generally something like corned beef, baked beans and mash. Then for 'tea' in the early evening there would be a snack meal like sardines on toast, often followed by a dessert like bread & butter pudding. There was a kid next door whose mum favoured condensed milk sandwiches for tea. But on Sundays it was always the full British roast dinner, followed by bananas and custard or tinned fruit cocktail and evaporated milk. While ingredients might come in tins or packets, we had no experience of ready-made desserts or meals other than occasional fish & chips. Even on holidays, which were just day excursions for us, we always made our own sandwiches and rolls and never used cafes or restaurants. It was only in the late '60s, when for the first time I had more money than time to spare, that I started to experience 'fast food'. I didn't much like it then and I still don't!

  84. #84
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    Did you experience compo tea?

    Sure Did Bob but not at home. Twice we were requisitioned. First time for the Korean thing then for the Invasion of Suez in 1956. The second time, we were with the first wave so besides having the nasty stuff, we had 5 -man compo packs which we handed out to the lads. Bloody evil stuff. However the chocolate and tin of fags was welcome.

    Going back a bit- I remember that a favourite ploy was to save fag-ends (only sissies smoked cork-tips) then when you had enough, you broke them open and extracted the remaining tobacco. Then you mixed it with dried tea left over from the final brew. When the mix was ready, it was hand-rolled in a bit of newspaper.
    Talking of fags: you've never lived until you've been on the top deck of a utility bus when some one at the front lit-up a Pasha. The sales jingle was "From camel to consumer"
    First time I had a banana after the war, I broke-out in an allergic reaction. Never ate one until I came here where one of the favourite dishes is banana and scabard fish (Yuch!) Got them in the next door garden so I nick one every morning.

    Jim

  85. #85
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    Hi all,

    Jim:

    Interesting to note how the public perception of different types of food has changed over the years, huh!?

    Fish was an extremely common food back in those days (I guess it still is to an extent but not so much in the fresh form) because it was so cheap and easy to obtain, and not particularly difficult to cook either. Fishmongering was a very common job and there would constantly be market stalls selling the stuff in communities next to any source of water.

    You had a very tough run, catching all of those illnesses! One would be bad enough!

    Bob:

    You're quite right about Mayhew and the fruit-meat pies. It was all about obtaining the cheapest and most accessible foods for the poor who lived in that era. As you rightly point out as well, the product itself might not necessarily be in such a good state as refrigeration and preservation options were limited, and people could not afford to simply throw food which might have been a little on the turn out, so they just "made do".

    It seems their diets were quite basic and repetitive, but the substances themselves for the most part were not that unhealthy.

    -------

    As a side point to what we've been discussing here, I watched a documentary on TV the other night titled "Taboo: Fat". In it, they stated a statistic to the effect that the visibility of food to the consumer has doubled since the 1950's in the USA, and they blamed much of the obesity problem on statistics like this. Essentially, food is EVERYWHERE. We can't walk down the street without walking past food vendors; we can't even go into a grocery store anymore without ready-to-go meals staring us in the face. And let's not even start on the advertising campaigns.

    This was not the case 100 years ago when specific foods were sold by specific merchants. You wanted meat, you go to the butcher. You wanted fish, you go to the fishmonger. You wanted bread, you go to the baker. Nowadays every shop worth its salt sells all of these items and more - so wherever we go, we're subconsciously being encouraged to eat, and this overpresence of food in every nook and cranny is a large source of the problem.

    Of course there are attempts to curb this. I can recall a specific personal story which occurred in my high school, and that is that we once had soft drink vending machines in the school, and soft drinks available from the canteen. When the concern grew that this was promoting unhealthy consumption, our soft drink vending machine was removed and replaced with one that vended only water and other healthy options. That would be at least a decade ago now and maybe more, so that shows how long such problems have required an action to solve them even in schools.

    Then there is the "politically correct" side of things. 100 years ago, if somebody was fat, they would be told that was the case and they needed to lose weight or die. Nowadays it's more of a touchy subject because political correctness has gone to ridiculous levels and it's wrong to call somebody fat, as it's demeaning and so on and so forth, even if the advice is constructive and it's clear they are driving themselves into an early grave. Much of this stuff really is just a "sign of the times".

    So in short, statistics like that speak for themselves. These problems didn't exist 100 years ago; not until everything became one big commercial war. Unhealthy food is everywhere, and its effects are a lot more difficult to reverse than they are to create.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    Smile

    Hello Adam.

    " Nowadays it's more of a touchy subject because political correctness has gone to ridiculous levels and it's wrong to call somebody fat, as it's demeaning and so on and so forth, even if the advice is constructive and it's clear they are driving themselves into an early grave. Much of this stuff really is just a "sign of the times".

    Right on the money!
    In my day we were told "The truth hurts" However we were also told always be truthful. Nowadays, the truth and reality are complete strangers.
    If a person is saved the embarrasment of the truth, that person will eventually become comfortable living with a lie. The silly reality is that the PC LIBERALS have to live with exactly the same lie. Because by encouraging it, they leave themselves and the rest of us to pick up the tab and as you point out, hasten the inevitable for the self-denying person. But I suppose the LIBERALS feel good in themselves about it and that's all that really matters. Isn't it?

    Sadly, we live in an increasingly silly, stupid, empty-headed world governed by silly, stupid, empty-headed, self-serving coniving, short-sighted and down-right evil politicians. Did I miss anything out?

    Think about how difficult it must be for the people in those countries who are three or more generations behind us in social development to get their heads round what these LIBERAL western poiticians pontificate about. It was OK when information took time to filter dwn through the layers of development but now we have instant -spread as well as instant coffee.

    Jim

    Jim

  87. #87
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    The encouragement to eat is nothing new. It was hard to walk down a city street 100 years ago without being accosted by street vendors selling fruit, pies, hot potatoes, muffins, water cress and other eatables. And for the better off shopper grocery department stores like Harrods, Liptons and Fortnum & Mason were well established. To add to the temptation every inch of space on walls, fences and even moving buses and trams was covered with advertisements, many of them for foodstuffs. The difference today is that the display and advertisement of food is more effective because most of us rarely need to ask ourselves "Can I afford that?"

  88. #88
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    Jim:

    Well said and another great post. The truth does hurt and you've got to be "cruel to be kind", but most people don't have the balls to do it these days (especially if they are prominent in the public eye) because the backlash from the politically correct and those pandering to the politically correct is enormous. So it becomes easier to simply say "oh NO, you're not fat at all, by all means gorge yourself on another cheeseburger." Then everybody feels good about themselves but the end result is still the same.

    It is absolutely astonishing to me that Western society can have such a huge and increasing problem with obesity and health problems caused by obesity, when third world countries have countless people who are either starving, diseased and living in poverty or are on the very brink of it. It's appalling and to be honest it's impossible for me to get my head around how it's come to this.

    I don't mean to get on my moral high horse here - heck i'm guilty of going to the fast food restaurants on a semi-regular basis as well, but I don't live off the stuff and if there is a healthier option nearby then i'll take it. Credit where credit's due, some of these fast food restaurants have actually attempted to implement healthy menu's as well in recent years.

    Bob:

    You're right, advertisements and encouragement to eat food that might not necessarily be healthy for you has been around for a long, long time. BUT it's getting easier, more widespread, cheaper than healthier foods and it's more ingrained in society. What I mean is that 100 years ago, the drive-thru didn't exist. 100 years ago, there was no culture amongst youths to "hang out and have a cheeseburger, fries and coke down at (insert fast food restaurant here)".

    These days the latter is extremely common, and the former.....well, there's regularly blocked traffic next to the drive-thru's at certain hours of the day in my local community as people line up outside the drive-thru and onto the street itself to get their fast food fix. People partake in it without even thinking about it, it's just part of what we do in 21st century society.

    True, unhealthy food existed 100 years ago. True, people ate food which we wouldn't touch today. True, there were obese and unhealthy people. But not on the scale that we see everywhere we go now. It's not a problem anymore, it's actually an epidemic.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    I found this post very interesting! I would add that there is a massive difference between the home-baked-food of the old days and the meals we have nowadays. Now, it is not big deal if we don't manage to prepare something for supper as long as we can purchase it somewhere else... The fact is that, when that happens, we don´t know where did it come from or how was it cooked... And there is quite a difference between the homemade meals of the past and the industrialized mass consumption junk food we eat today!
    I would also like to say that family bonds are very important when looking for the main reasons for obesity. A lot of people, who feel they are not supported by their families or firends, tend to overeat in order to overcome the stress of a lonely existence. It has been proven that having someone to share your meals with helps you to eat less as you become sate more quickly. When having a meal with somebody else, one tends to talk, eat more slowy and enjoy each mouthful. Taking into account that according the traditional (and perhaps oldfashioned) view on family structure, family members tended to share stronger bonds in the past, that can provide a clue on why has obesity spread so much recently.
    Just saying!

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    "I would also like to say that family bonds are very important when looking for the main reasons for obesity. A lot of people, who feel they are not supported by their families or firends, tend to overeat in order to overcome the stress of a lonely existence. It has been proven that having someone to share your meals with helps you to eat less as you become sate more quickly. When having a meal with somebody else, one tends to talk, eat more slowy and enjoy each mouthful. Taking into account that according the traditional (and perhaps oldfashioned) view on family structure, family members tended to share stronger bonds in the past, that can provide a clue on why has obesity spread so much recently.
    Just saying!"


    You might be 'just saying' Augusto but what you just said hit's the nail right on the head.

    As you probably gather, I learned my eating habits a very long time ago. Today, my wife and I still practice the old 'bad habits'. Unlike our children and grandchildren, we sit down together to eat. Set the table the night before for breakfast next morning. Set the table for having lunch and the same in the evening. We make time to do so because we like each other's company better that goggling at some electronic box. We seldom ever open a packet of anything other than the standard packets of ingredients for making a meal or a drink. We do open fruit by skinning the fresh kind. We work together to prepare food. We give ourselves a treat once a month and go out to the local restaurants. Then we make a point of talking to other people around us. It helps us and it helps them.

    I am very glad I was born when I was. I am also very glad that I did not and still don't have to suffer the way all those millions that Adam metioned do.
    Strangely enough, although I'm a once-was, I'm also a 'still am'. I think that this medium of the internet could be put to good use in making people aware of the slippery-slope they are on and help them get off before it's too late.

    Just had a great dinner of fresh beef slowly cooked in a pot to bring out all the flavour. Then the meat juices poured over for a gravy. Served with fresh cauliflower, white sauce and boiled new potatoes.
    Not a bit of plastic packaging in sight.

    Tons left for a brown-bread sandwich at lunch time tomorrow. (Roll-on lunch-time!)

    Mmmmmmm!

    PS, I'm still exactly the same weight as I was when I was 18 years old and believe me that WAS a very long time ago. The average 18 year old conscript in those days did not weigh much over 150 lbs (68 kilos). Iwas average.

    Jim

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    Hi Augusto and Jim,

    Augusto:

    Well said. As I mentioned before, I think a lot of it comes back to the fact that 100 years ago, the largely traditional family set up, even for poorer families, was that the man of the house would go out to work and earn the money while the woman of the house would take care of the children, meals and household maintenance. Nowadays though a combination of the feminist movement and the economic climate has put an end to that, and many women work just as hard and make just as much money as their male counterparts. Which is great for social equality, but not so great for ensuring that there's enough time in the day to produce a hearty meal.

    I agree with you as well about having meals with other people. It's another sign of the times, families are so busy these days that even if they get along well enough and live in a close radius to one another, they don't see each other very often at all.

    Jim:

    That's very interesting how you still go about meal time, I think it's great. I must admit i'm guilty of rarely eating at the table these days, unless it's a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas, etc etc.

    The internet could and should absolutely be used to educate people, especially the younger generation, about the dangers of living an unhealthy lifestyle.

    Cheers,
    Adam.

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    Hell Adam.
    "I must admit i'm guilty of rarely eating at the table these days, unless it's a special occasion like a birthday or Christmas,"

    Most deffinitely a knuckle-rapping offence..tut,tut,tut!

    Unless a person lives alone and sitting at a table to eat would simply reinforce lonliness; it seems to me that not eating at the table is anti-social. It is the 'thin edge of the wedge'. How on earth can people really get to know and understand each other if they don't sit down and discuss 'the world'? More to the point: how can parents realy know their children if they don't exchange worldy opinions with them?

    If children and parents lead separate lives at an early stage in life.. what will the relationship between them be like in old age?

    I' am reminded of my own extended family situation which I suspect is normal in the western world.

    I've been married for well over 50 years yet I can still spend over 2 hours on a Saturday night over home-cooked dinner and a bottle of wine discussing 'the world' and talking a lot of enjoyable 'rubbish' with the person who became my best friend almost 60 years ago. My brother and sister do the same thing.
    One geneartion on: Our children do too, but they do so after their children have 'dispersed'.

    Increasingly more young people in my grandchildren's generation meet, mate and disperse; much like a bovine herd.

    In two generations, there won't be any 'grand children' or 'grandparents' as we know them now. Our western world will become a giant nursery full of children with exotic names but little else of a personal nature.
    Social interaction will have progressed beyond to-days anti-social level. Increasingly, we see two you people togther in a restaurant,cafe, bus or train; he sits with his head bowed texting like fury about God knows what while she sits with an electronic contraption clapped to an ear talking in a loud voice but not listening. Perhaps I'm painting a picture of a family Xmas dinner in 2020?

    Adam; I suggest that the reason why I, my wife and my siblings and their wives behave the way we do is because we were taught from a very early age to sit at a table for meals. We taught our off-spring to do the same.
    The rot set-in when our off-spring allowed their young people to decide what was important to themselves as specific individuals rather that what was important to societly as a whole. There be dragons as they say.

    I wonder how the sales of dining tables have suffered due to to-day's anti-social behaviour?

    Jim

  93. #93
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Posts
    1,136
    Hi Jim,

    I think you've summed it up perfectly - the traditions we follow as adults are often the ones we were brought up with as children. It's very important to observe tradition but at the same time to keep evolving and be 'modern', lest we all get left behind.

    Most houses, even those of the young, consist of a dining table. But more often than not it is merely there for decoration rather than substance. To eat at the table must signify a special occasion indeed. Otherwise it is the done thing to simply eat on the couch or wherever you may be at the time, and continue watching TV. Meal times aren't without conversation but they aren't the discussion of the world and its affairs that you alluded to.

    I do very much agree with you though that young people don't know how to communicate anymore, unless it's via something electronic!

    Adam.

 

 

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