Let's Get Physical #7: The Losing Battle

80s Fitness

What gets me about the 1980s fitness craze (other than the tacky clothing and bad music) is that it was precisely during this time period that the obsety rate started climbing!  In other words, America didn't really have an obesity problem until the aerobics craze. WTF?

Okay, I'm not suggesting that Jazzersize causes weight gain, but I am suggesting that it was ineffective.  It had good intentions, but, quite honestly, it was fighting a losing battle because a lot of other factors came into play at the same time.  It is my opinion that these factors (listed below) have made this country a bunch of fatasses and there's not a damn thing a couple of leg warmers and leotard can do about it.

Let's Get Physical

1. There wasn't always a fast food establishment on every corner.  Nowadays, you have to try real hard to not be an arm's length away from easy, quick and cheap food just ready to be shoveled into your mouth.  It's simply too damn easy access a chicken nugget.

2. Jobs have become very sedentary. A lot of the American workforce is at a desk at least 8 hours a day.  It's awfully hard to keep the fat off when you've gotten less exercise than a bedridden hospital patient.

3. Nowadays, both parents work.  Therefore, mom doesn't have the time to fix a homemade meal as she used to.  It's the rare working mother that can squeeze in a healthy homecooked meal after a hard days work... most opt for the nuggets.

4. Kids don't play outside anymore.  Rampant crime keeps parents from letting kids stray far from home - and the kids are only too happy to oblige by staying home playing their X Box.

5. And finally, the Boomers are a huge percentage of our population.  As they get older, they get fatter. 

Let's Get Physical!

" Between 1986 and 2000, the prevalence of severe obesity quadrupled from one in two hundred Americans to one in fifty. Extreme obesity in adults increased by a factor of five, from one in two thousand to one in four hundred.


  1. I think that your comment about rampant crime deterring kids from playing outdoors is interesting.

    Statistically most abducted children are taken by non-custodial parents.

    Coming on the heels of Hallowe'en with this post, it may be added that documented cases of candy poisoning at this holiday have involved parents who were trying to harm their own children.

    What I am getting at is that most children aren't so much in danger from society at large as they are from someone they already know and trust (Catholic Priests scandal is a great example of this).

    I think a lot of kids playing indoors is driven more by parents who have abdicated their responsibility as parents moreso than any fear that is based in reality. It's just easier to park your kid in front of a PC/TV/DVD Player/Xbox/Wii than it is to explore a lot of other options.

    Great blog, I look forward to each post that hits my reader.

  2. It's statistically safer now, but with 39 cable 24-hour news channels yelling bad news(equals ratings) at us with no end, the perception is that there's now a molester or terrorist on every corner!

    Also, read FAST FOOD NATION and the like for the inside scoop on how many factors converged to offer cheap, plentiful fast food to an ever-more affluent middle class in the late 70s onward...

    LOVE this blog! Still looking over that "Square America" site!

    Al Bigley

  3. It is not that Jazzersize was ineffective, it is that we stopped doing it.

    As that fitness craze came and went, the next one started and on down the line. We get one we like, do it for 6 months to a year, stop, and complain that all the new ones are not as good.

    THEN we try every diet that comes out because it is easier to change eating habits than exercise. (Um, right?)

    Face it. We no longer live in a world that has us farming ten hours a day. We do live in a world where food is plentiful.

    Lots of food + little exercise = lbs.

  4. A big thing with #4 is #3. Latchkey kids can't go outside to play, because there is no adult around. Parents tell them to stay inside and watch TV or play on the computer until a parent comes home. I would add single parents to that as well. A single mom who has worked all day isn't in the mood to make dinner or play basketball with the kids. And yes regularjoe, you may be correct about the facts, but the truth and the fear are two different things.

  5. Wasn't it in the early to mid 80's when soft drink manufacturers started replacing sugar with high-fructose corn syrup? Studies on mice have shown that when fed equivalent diets, but some getting sugar and others getting HFCS, the ones getting HFCS gained significantly more weight.

    And now that stuff's in everything - even foods you wouldn't think needed added "sweetening".

  6. I always like it when the "natural flavor" is two ingredients below Red Die #4.