Childhood Obesity: Also a problem in 1961

20150813-104507.jpg

It’s fascinating to me that so often the current obesity epidemic and push to end childhood obesity is promoted as a new thing or a timely campaign unique to the 2000’s….but childhood obesity was a known problem even back in 1961.

According to the article “The too-plump child may need your help” in the August 1961 issue of Everywoman’s Family Circle numerous studies had been done to examine the relationship with obesity in childhood and obesity as an adult.

According to one study, “a survey of an Eastern city’s high school students revealed that 20% of these boys and girls were at least 10% above the average weights for their ages.” Another study from Boston looked at primary and secondary school students to find that more than 10% of the study participants were more than 20% heavier than the average weight for their ages.

It was also estimated that about 15% of children and teens nationwide were obese (according to a study done by Dr. Felix Heald, the former president of Pediatrics at Harvard and the Washington D.C children’s hospital). Today most states in America are estimated at about 20-30% obesity for children in the 10-17 age range.

The article goes on to explain the correlation of obesity in childhood and obesity in adulthood providing statistics that in a study of 200 adults, 43/50 adult men who had been obese as children were still obese vs 21/50 adult men who had been average weight as children than were overweight as adults. Additional studies were cited to argue that most obese adults were also obese as children.

Hypothyroidism is mentioned as a common suggestion for weight gain, but quickly shoots it down as a viable option stating that although it’s popular to assume, hypothyroidism rarely causes obesity in children. Obesity in children is further connected to diet and inactivity, along with parental involvement in enabling obesity–essentially the same issues we find today.

According to the article and unnamed sources (vaguely describe as authorities), 10% of children with normal weight parents are obese, 50% of children with one obese parent are obese, and 80% of children with two obese parents are obese. Obesity is described as a family trait, but explained that it is not inherited; rather it is learned through environment.

The article includes case studies of the experiences of a 10 year old boy and 8 year old girl in school, along with a study of teenage girls at what ultimately would be referred to as a “fat camp”. And while it is not socially acceptable to fat-shame in 2015, very direct language was used at this time as a tactic to establish social norms, motivate, and essentially scare the fat out of you. The article rarely uses sugar coated phrasing for “over weight” and describes the overweight child as “fat”, “fatty”, and “porker”. The article even goes so far as to state that in a group of obese teen girls surveyed, the few who claimed to be okay with or positive about their conditions were “pathetically defensive.”

While the issue is still the same, the language used is a far cry from what you might read in a magazine or website today–unless you’re reading a comment thread on the Internet.

Advertisements

Firm your Natural Girdle: Exercise Advice from 1962

This article from 1962 offered 12 exercises that promised to slim the hips, thighs and ankles, flatten the abdomen, and straighten the back. Sara Mildred Strauss, the former Director at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and a stated authority on body alignment and control, offered her expertise and advice to housewives across the nation so they too could have the highly coveted ballet-body (although they didn’t call it that back then…and clearly the current push for a ballet-body isn’t a new thing). According to Strauss there are a few tried and true methods to sculpting the body into the perfect soft and feminine form:

Here an Inch….There an Inch By Sara Mildred Strauss

main

alignmentFirst of all, you couldn’t achieve the desired body shape without have the proper body alignment. This meant standing with the right type of posture and making sure the muscles were held tight and the joints were relaxed and lightly flexed.

Stretch 1TO FIRM AND TRIM HIPS, THIGHS, AND LEGS, AND TO STRENGTHEN FEET

  • Stand in proper alignment, with the fingertips resting upon the back of a straight chair
  • Bend deeply at the kneed
  • Rise to toes, firming buttocks and pressing still more deeply down into the knees
  • Hold this position for a moment
  • Come down again onto the whole foot, and back once more into proper standing alignment
  • Repeat four time to start; increase gradually to eight times

Stretch 2

TO EXPAND AND STRENGTHEN RIB AND CHEST MUSCLES, AND TO REDUCE WAISTLINE

  • Stand in proper alignment position
  • Place thumbs and fingers of each hand together
  • Place hands high below armpits, with elbows held wide
  • Lift entire rib section as high as you can, but do not lift shoulders and do not bend forward. Breathe deeply
  • Lift elbow and ribs high on one side; lower. Lift to other side; lower
  • Repeat lifts slowly on alternate sides, 10 times to start; increase gradually to 20 times

Stretch 3

TO REDUCE HIPS, THIGHS, AND ABDOMEN; TO STRAIGHTEN, STRENGTHEN THE TORSO

  • Place side of hand (thumb held backward, index finger forward) at pelvic joint, and raise the entire torso upward as high as possible. Keep knees slightly bent and breathe deeply
  • Bend forward slowly at pelvic joint, keeping torso stretched and straight
  • Bending knees deeply, slowly straighten again to standing alignment, lifting the whole torso from the lower back, the buttocks, and the thighs
  • Repeat four times to start; gradually increase to eight times

4

TO REDUCE ANKLES, THIGHS, AND BUTTOCKS

  • Sit on the edge of a straight-back chair, hands (palms down) on thighs, torso in correct alignment
  • Keeping heels raised, point feet downward and slightly forward with toes resting on the floor
  • Now, alternating feet, touch heels to the floor, lifting whole foot acutely, bending and straightening ankles. Feel the movements as coming from the lower back and the buttocks
  • Repeat, alternating feet, 12 times at first; increase to 24 times

5

TO REDUCE AND STRENGTHEN ANKLES, THIGHS, HIPS, AND BUTTOCKS

  • Sit on edge of a straight-back chair, keeping torso in correct alignment. Point feet straight down, with toes touching the floor
  • Bring one knee upward slowly as high as you can, toes pointed down
  • Lower this knee to first position and raise other knee, keeping toes pointed straight down
  • Continue raising knees and lowering them alternately. Movement should be slow
  • Repeat six times; increase to 12 times

6

TO SLIM WAISTLINE, STRENGTHEN UPPER TORSO, REDUCE TENSION IN NECK

  • Sit in a straight chair, torso aligned, and press lower back against chair back; feet together on eight-inch stool
  • Place thumbs on collarbones and raise elbows overhead. Then allow the fingers of each hand to point down and place them flat against upper back. Be sure hands do not touch head or neck
  • Slowly bring elbows down, out, forward at shoulder heigh and then up
  • During movement, keep ribs raised and shoulder blades down, pelvis tipped upward. Breathe deeply

7

TO REDUCE AND STRENGTHEN THIGHS AND BUTTOCKS, TO STRETCH ANKLES AND ARCHES

  • In correct alignment, stand on toes; slowly press buttocks and thighs forward till you sink into a kneeling position, torso straight, hands easy and without tension on front of thighs
  • Flatten top of feet against the floor, keeping feet straight and together; now slowly sit back upon heels, pressing buttocks forward and upward and keeping correct alignment in torso. Breathe deeply
  • with the same control, return to first kneeling position
  • Repeat slowly three times to start; gradually increase to 6 times

8

TO SLIM AND STRENGTHEN BACK, ABDOMEN, THIGHS, AND ANKLES

  • Lie on back in correct alignment. Bring knees up till lower legs make a 45* angle; press heels against the floor
  • Keeping feet and knees together, firm the buttocks so that the pelvis is tipped upward. Press lower back against floor to release tension in abdomen
  • Keeping ribs raised high and shoulder blades wide, stretch the neck long in back. Keep chin in
  • Hands on abdomen, bend elbows wide; rest upper arms on floor. Breathe deeply
  • Now bend one knee back as far as you can towards the chest and then lower this knee slowly to its former position
  • Repeat with the other knee
  • Repeat six times; increase to 12

9.1 9.2

 

 

TO SLIM AND STRENGTHEN ANKLES, CALVES, THIGHS, AND BUTTOCKS

  • Assume same position as in No. 8 (above) just before knee is bent back
  • Point toes to touch the floor and then bring first one foot and then the other as far back as you can, pressing the buttocks upward to lift the pelvis and the torso
  • Slowly press lower back against the floor to bring the buttocks gradually down again
  • Repeat this exercise slowly four times to start; increase it gradually to eight times

10

TO STRENGTHEN AND SLIM ANKLES, CALVES, THIGHS

  • Take correct alignment position but bend deeper at knees; hands on the front of the thighs
  • Lift heel of one foot, pointing toes; return to first position, keeping correct alignment
  • Repeat, alternating feet, keeping knees bent but facing ahead and together. Do not move hips, torso, or other body parts as you lift feet
  • Start this movement slowly and then make the action rapid and at last move forward into a small easy run

11

TO SLIM, STRENGTHEN EVERY PART OF THE LEGS; PREPARATION FOR WALKING

  • From standing alignment, take a long step forward, feet and knees directed straight ahead
  • Bend knees deeply, pressing buttocks forward into the thighs. Keep weight on the outside of the feet
  • As you move forward, keep the knees deeply bent and keep the torso in proper alignment at all times. Go into this movement gradually–do not tire yourself

12

SMOOTH, EFFORTLESS, AND EASY WALKING

  • On the forward foot, weight is at first on the heel and shifts through outer arch, ball, toes
  • Feet are always directed straight ahead, parallel
  • Knees are flexed and face straight ahead
  • Arms swing freely at sides
  • Buttocks are held firmly, and there is no side movement of the hips
  • The body is controlled and co-ordinated through the deep muscles; it is supported by the natural girdle

##


Everywoman’s Family Circle May 1962