Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Are We Healthier Than Past Generations?

At Pud for all Seasons, we’re obviously crazy about all things sweet. And we’re even crazier about sweet things that are good for your health! Our puddings are low in fat and we also supply gluten and dairy free varieties meaning they can be enjoyed by everyone in a healthy way.

With a greater emphasis being placed on living healthy lifestyles, people are seemingly more concerned about their diet than ever. The younger generations in particular are very conscious of eating healthy and exercising regularly.

Supplying gluten free plum puddings as healthy desserts ourselves, we started wondering just how healthy we are as a society. The fact is that sweet foods - like all things - need to be enjoyed in moderation. We always hear about rising levels of obesity, yet it seems like there’s just as many people living very healthy lifestyles. In this article, we have a look at how we compare to years gone past.

Interesting, much of our desire for fatty foods is derived from the conditions of our forefathers in the ‘hunter gatherer’ period. Obviously, fatty foods take longer to break down and so there was a clear advantage for people to eat them in times of shortage of food and famine. Our bodies encourage us to consume these foods even today, though because we are not going long periods without food, the effect is that we carry higher quantities of fat for longer, which is very unhealthy.

That said, the hunter gatherer diet was actually quite healthy when foods were available. It was made up of a good balance of fruits/vegies and animal based foods. In fact, it is estimated that people during this time consumed significantly more fibre, whereas today many people’s diets are made up of fatty foods, starch and lacking in fruit and vegetables.

Throughout the 20th century, there were a number of technological and sociological changes that had an impact on people’s consumption. These included the development of vitamins and food chemicals, increasing numbers of women in the workforce and the effect multiculturalism had on people’s diet.

Ultimately, the statistics don’t lie - the average person today is almost 12kg heavier than the average person in 1950. Proper portion sizes seem to have a lot to do with this, as they are now four times the size. There is also significantly more variety nowadays. 

Fifty to sixty years ago, meals were very simple and largely based around meat and vegetables, as well as being high in animal fat and oils. While our meals are more varied in terms of the nutrients we get out of them, they are much greater in size and this is reflected in our higher levels of obesity.

Yet the proportion of people exercising continues to grow, particularly during the past decade. The stats indicate that the number of people exercising has risen by almost 20% since 2001. So why do we continue to put on more weight as a society? Some suggest that with increased physical activity we are consuming more and this is the contributing factor; others point out that exercise has less to do with weight loss than we think.

We’d like to hear what you think! Do we live healthier lifestyles in modern times? Do the statistics tell the whole story?                  

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