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Turn Back the Clock on the Obesity Epidemic

Turn Back the Clock on the Obesity Epidemic

Were you breaking into the workforce back when Elvis was king and a gallon of gas cost 25 cents? Yes? Then your job was probably active enough to keep your waist trim, no gym needed. Yep, back in the 1960s, nearly half the population had physical jobs -- on farms and docks, in mills and bakeries, even just distributing office info (no e-mail!) -- that burned 140 more calories a day than most of us work off now.

The big switcheroo to sit-down jobs helps explain today's obesity epidemic and the jump in average weight between 1962 and 2006: from 170 to 198 pounds for men, from 143 to 170 for women.

Don't settle for an XL belt size. Enter our time machine. These steps will take you back to more active times and forward to weight loss success:

  • Walk to win back a slim 1960s figure. Hit the sidewalk before work for 30 minutes daily (or just leave your desk and hike the hallways for 10 minutes, three times). Watch TV only while on an exercise bike. Join a yoga/weight/dance class with a pal. Move!
  • Eat retro portion sizes. Yep, those were the days before "supersize" appeared on menus. Reverting to moderate portions will help you lose, big-time.
  • Give your diet some modern twists, too. Instead of pot roast, gravy, mashed potatoes, and limp green beans, go for slimming dishes from the twenty-first century: grilled lemon-pepper chicken breasts, veggies with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and herbed whole-wheat couscous. You're on your way back to a thinner future!

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

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