06 Feb Real Talk | The History of Weight
Dr. Brian Murphy discusses the history of weight.
It’s really kind of interesting when we look back into the 1850s old tin types, if you’ve ever been to a museum. The one thing you’ll notice is there’s really not a lot of fat people back then. And I think a lot of the reason why is because we had this hard life they had to live back then. A lot of people don’t realize how much acreage of land it actually takes to feed a human being for a year. Well, the answer to that is three acres per person. So if it’s just you by yourself and you’re going to have to farm, you’re going to need three acres to grow enough food to last you a year. Well, back in the 1850s, they didn’t have any mechanical plows, rototillers, weed killer. I mean, this was a day sunrise, the sunset, 12 hour day working in the garden and hopefully going to have a good harvest. Otherwise, you are going to go hungry.
Then you kind of fast forward this about 100 years. Well, we got horse drawn carriages, we got horse drawn plows, then came mechanized machinery that was drawn behind horses. Then came the invention of gasoline engines. Farm work got a lot more simpler. And about the 30s, 40s and 50s, we started having an abundance of crops that we were able to sell. Now we all didn’t have to be farmers. We could start having our meals prepared for them. We could buy them for us. And so the weight of America started increasing. We had more leisure time. We didn’t have to spend all these hours in the garden. We were able to relax and have a little bit more food and have a little bit better time.
And another thing that’s really striking, too, just looking at meal sizes. And you can actually do this. You can Google a meal from 1950 and a meal today and you will notice the portion sizes have doubled. And so I think a large amount of our problem is we are trying to get our ideals that quality means quantity. And that’s not the case at all.
So they’re preparing more meals for us. And so as a result, as we became from industrialized to manufacturing to now we’re somewhat of a service economy where honestly nobody in the United States really does anything anymore. We just have other people do it for us. We all kind of just sit around and do nothing. Our weight has been aggressively getting higher as the years gone by.
And then 1976, something happened and it was hailed as a great revolution which caused our weight to skyrocket. And that was the invention of the personal computer. Back in my time when we wanted to play with our friends, we had to go outside and our mothers and fathers used to yell us to come home because it’s getting dark. Not now. Your children and our grandchildren, they don’t have to go outside to play with their friends. They can play with them on their phones, their computers, different video games. They can zoom in on Xbox. There is no activity with these children.
And so people my age, which is old now, I remember going to high school and there was no overweight kids in my school. And we look at the children today and 10 to 20 percent of the children are overweight. We have children in our schools now that have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, blood pressure issues, development of degenerative joints at such a young age. It is unbelievable. We have a massive problem.
But that is the history of weight. Now everybody wants to blame it on a lot of things. And I think there is a lot of factors that fall into this. There’s blame to be shared with additives we put in our food. Corn fructose being a bad one. Corn fructose is a very potent addictive food source. And the food companies know this, which is why they increased production of it 1200 percent in the last 10 years into our food source to get us addicted to their foods. We have all these advertisements of sugar pop ads. The chip aisle at grocery stores is unbelievable. They have a whole aisle dedicated to chips, which are pure fat. Couldn’t pick a worse food source. They have a whole aisle dedicated to soft drinks. Same story there. I mean, these are aisles and aisles of these food sources. You need to stay away from them. I’ve often told my patients, well, they really ought to hang a sign up in the aisle that says, yay, as I wander through the shadow of valley of death, I shall fear no evil here. But they are. Just bypass the aisles and don’t go into those aisles. They talk a lot about processed foods. And processed means a lot to different people, whether how refined it is. The process I think we’re talking about is help with preservation. Though they take away some of the nutrient and sources of it, the answer is, yeah, they do.
But at the end of the consumption part of it, a calorie is still a calorie. Whether it’s processed or raw, it’s still calories. And calories are what we need. And that is the history of weight in a nutshell.