Happy housewives with wider waistlines

Alexandra Meyer


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Waistlines have certainly increased in women since the 1950s, but interestingly enough, so has life expectancy.

All those pin-up style photos of women with their vacuum cleaner and their tiny little waists were actually pretty accurate. In the 1950s the average middle-aged woman had a 28-inch waist but nowadays the average measurement is 34 inches.

Today’s women don’t often spend their days with a perfectly coiffed head of hair and a basket of cleaning supplies. Housewives in the 1950s used to burn up to 1,000 calories a day simply by doing the chores. Many women nowadays have more sedentary lifestyles and those that work full-time often spend the day at a desk.

But household duties weren’t the only difference between women now and then. There was also a lot less fast food available in the 1950s. According to a study done by Saga, women typically consumed 1,818 calories a day and now eat 2,178.

Washing clothes without a washing machine, making beds without duvets, getting the groceries without a car. All of the typical daily activities for a housewife in the 1950s required a good amount of physical activity.

Despite the expanding waistlines of the new millennia, life expectancies have increased dramatically. In 1952, men aged 65 were expected to live a further 12.1 years and women were expected to live another 15.5 years.

Nowadays, the further expectancy for men aged 65 is 21.7 and for women aged 65 it’s 24.2.

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Research has also shown that hormones in women that distribute fat around the waist help to combat stress and up stamina. The hormones that make women physically stronger and more competitive tend to redistribute fat from the hips to the waist.

Women that “bring home the bacon” are more likely to have a more cylindrical figure than an hourglass shape.

The food we eat has also had an impact on our changing image. We now eat twice as much sugar as we used to and things like corn syrup and alcohol add a significant number of calories into our lifestyle.

There are both good and bad health benefits to this change. Women are also taller than they were in the 1950s, due to the lessening demands of the environment. More energy is devoted to growth since we now have warmer homes, better medicine and improved sanitation.

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So being heavier than previous generations isn’t necessarily a problem if our bodies stay in proportion. Since women are generally taller, the average woman’s Body Mass Index (BMI) is actually lower than the average woman in the 1950s.

If you’re looking for ideas on how to burn a few more calories, cleaning the house is a cheap and easy option, but if you’re comfortable throwing all the clothes in the washing machine and letting new gadgets simplify your life, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. With life expectancy stats as they are, clearly we’re doing something right.





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