20 years and 20 pounds later

by admin on August 5, 2011

Remember that old song “The Way We Were” – and I apologize in advance if this is now going to embed the tune in your brain for the rest of the day – where the lyrics talk about how in the past “the grass was greener, the smiles were brighter.” Well, you can add another item to that list. In the past people were thinner. A lot thinner.

That struck me the other day when Shirley was showing me some old stories that she produced many years ago. One was from 1989 (she was 12 at the time) shortly after the Loma Prieta earthquake hit San Francisco and it was a look at how many  people responded in heroic fashion after the quake. It was quite inspiring.

Feast for the eyes!

It was also quite eye opening. Looking at the tape, and the various shots taken in the immediate aftermath of the quake, one thing struck me. How thin everyone was. Not just those on camera, the reporters and anchors – they’re universally slim – but everyone. Almost without exception people were slim. Even those with a little extra girth were nothing compared to what you would find on the streets of most American cities, including San Francisco, today.

You can see the same thing in any movie or TV show from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Everyone was thin, really thin – not to mention that they had embarrassing hair cuts and really what were they thinking with those shoulder pads and jacket sleeves rolled up! – at least compared to people today.

Living high on the hog

It got me wondering, what on earth happened? Did each individual in the Bay Area suddenly decide that having survived a major earthquake they were now going to enjoy every minute of life as if it were their last and go on an eating/drinking binge? That’s one possibility I suppose.

Or maybe there is something else going on here. Maybe our lifestyles have changed in subtle but significant ways since then. Perhaps the sheer availability and cheapness of so many fast foods and heavily processed foods have simply caught up with us.  Years of eating junk food and working at jobs that require us to sit down all day, and that are further and further away from home so we have to spend hours in the car or the bus or the train just to get there Рperhaps these have steadily padded out our waist lines till more than 60 percent of Americans are now overweight Рmillions of them morbidly so.

Looking at the video was a reminder of our past. Looking out the window I can see our future. And it doesn’t look pretty.


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