Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sexist, Or a Grain of Truth? - Modern Mom Tackles Obesity

Seems like I keep hearing people nostalgic for the days of the average housewife.

Clean homes, homemade meals and involved child-rearing. Modern Mom recently posted a study you might find sexist, but does it also contain a grain of truth? Are we really fat because we don't do housework?

This study, which surveyed 8,000 men and women and compared their info to statistics from 1952,  claims that the housewives of yesteryear burned up to 1,000 calories doing their daily household chores and had fewer modern conveniences. The average waistline of 28 inches in 1952 has swelled to 34 inches today.

Okay, in my own weight-loss journey I have been wearing my pedometer daily to track my steps. The goal is to get 10,000 steps a day. Most days this requires me to go on a walk or some extra exercise, but on days that I clean all day I have found my step count is higher than normal. Yes, cleaning the house from top to bottom along with gardening and simple yard work can equal a great workout. But, do I think the lack of housework has caused our current obesity epidemic? No.

It would be lovely if the answer was that simple.

Just humor me and think about what also took place about this time. The first TV dinners, the first real convenience foods were created in the 1950s. Originally an option for airplanes, the market took off with companies including Quaker and Swanson competing for the aluminum tray world of easy to prepare food.

The 1960's brought women's liberation and more women working outside the home. It was a challenge to put food on the table every night and prepared foods or easy to assemble meals were more enticing.

The McDonalds brothers opened their first restaurant in 1948 and more fast-food options were close at their heels. Fried, fast, finger-friendly foods have been gaining popularity ever since.

So our whole food landscape changed. We chose food for convenience and no longer sought out nutrition first. As a child growing up in the 80's we ate out more than my parent's had during their childhood. Portion sizes were growing and "All You Can Eat" smorgasbords were common. Did my generation grow up eating more? Well, yes!

I don't think it can be linked to just one thing since the 1950's... ultimately it comes down to personal choices. Saying housework (or the calories burned during this form of exercise seems over simplistic) We choose what we put in our mouth, we choose whether to sit in front of the computer/TV all day. Sometimes the healthy choices are not the easiest, fastest or sweetest.

I am taking the uphill battle head-on and trying to make the best choices for me and my family. I am not striving for a 28-inch waist. Instead I just want to be healthy and enjoy my family. The clean house and home cooked dinners are just a bonus! ...But, don't even think of trying to take away my washing machine.

What do you think of the study? What do you think is the biggest culprit for the physical changes since the 1950's?
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