Childhood Obesity Rates

Childhood Obesity Rates

If junk food was available back in the olden days how come childhood Obesity Rates were low?

Many fizzy drinks were invented in the 1800′s and the mid 20th century.

Dr Pepper – 1885
Coca Cola – 1886
Pepsi – 1897
7Up – 1929
Fanta – 1940
Sprite – 1961

Candy, cookies, cake, pies, ice cream, milkshakes, brownies, donuts, popcorn, burgers, hot dogs chips, marshmallows, bubble gum, fries, etc have been going for centuries.

Cotton Candy was invented in 1904.

Fast Food restaurants have been available for over 80 years.

White Castle – 1920
KFC – 1929
McDonald’s – 1940
Dunkin Donuts – 1951
Burger King – 1954
Taco Bell – 1955
Pizza Hut – 1958
Subway – 1965
Wendy’s – 1969

TV dinners were invented in 1954

Pop tarts were invented in 1963

Plus many chocolate/candy bars invented in the early 20th century.

They had all this and yet no one was overweight


In 1885 kids didn’t lounge around the house drinking Dr Pepper and munching on potato chips while surfing the internet or playing WII. When they were feeling angsty and wanting to chat with a friend in 1956 teens didn’t just hop on IM or send a text. Even though many families had phones then, there was usually just one phone in the entire house, and it was often a “party line” that they shared with neighboring families, so in order for teens to connect with one another they either had to be pen pals by snail mail or leave their house and go over to a friends. When they wanted to play games with one another they couldn’t just play them online. They actually played real games, in real life.

For the sake of entertainment and necessity people were far more active then. A car was a luxury many families could not afford, and most school districts didn’t have buses, so more kids walked there and back. Kids climbed trees and played ball, and lots of them were also expected to contribute more to the household chores and responsibilities, so they had less idle time to sit around grazing on snacks and sweets. Washing your car and a load of laundry, preparing a meal and cleaning up after it, and mowing the lawn all took more time and exertion because they didn’t have the conveniences that we do in industrialized countries now. Even using the facilities required more steps because a lot of homes didn’t have the indoor plumbing needed to have bathrooms, so people used outhouses.

Though the number of kids and adults who were overweight and obese hadn’t reached the “epidemic” levels that it has today, there were still many who had weight problems. All you need to do is flip through an old magazine and you’ll see dieting tips and the ads for the weight-loss gimmicks of that era. Plus, there wasn’t the internet back then to keep reminding everyone that society was getting fatter by the day. The records about health habits were not as thorough back then, so it’s hard to really know the percentage of kids who were overweight in 1886. Many babies were born at home, and lots of people never even saw a doctor. Society simply didn’t obsess as much about weight. Digital scales didn’t exist and few people would have owned the bulky ones of the time.

Though the items had been invented, they weren’t as readily available; there weren’t 24 hour grocery stores or convenience stores around every corner then. And they were viewed more as rare treats than everyday snacks. One of my teachers told me how excited she was as a teenager when she went to McDonalds on a date! Most meals were eaten at home around the dinner table, not in front of the TV or in the car. Portion sizes were smaller and the food contained less sodium and preservatives. People lived more frugally and were less likely to go for seconds or buy snacks in between meals. The ingredients in many items listed have changed since they were first invented. The original Coke had cocaine leaves in it, hence the name “Coke.” (I’m not making this up). Aspartame and high fructose corn syrup weren’t pumped into so many of the snacks and foods. Long before it was trendy to be organic, people ate organically because that’s the way the food was grown before pesticides and growth hormone injections were readily used.

Thank you for asking a very interesting and well-researched question.

~ Pax / Peace : )

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