Everyone Really Was Thinner In The 80s—And It’s Thanks To Bacteria

Last Update: September 29, 2022

The 80s were a magical decade. The Berlin Wall fell, America sent its first woman into space, and French-cut thong leotards were invented.

Thanks to the rise of exercise aerobics, spandex outfits in every style and color showed up on bodies across the United States. For a lot of us today, the idea of shimmying into a hot pink thong leotard is terrifying. But it might have been a little easier for our 1980s counterparts to stomach—maybe because it was easier to stay fit without doing as much work.

A recent study from York University suggests that if you’re a twenty-something now and ate the same amount of calories and exercised just as much as a twenty-something in the 70s and 80s, you’d still be about 10 percent heavier. That’s no small increase, since we’ve on average added almost 2.3 BMI points to our weight from 1988 to 2006. It’s disappointing news, but there may be something you can do about it.

The researchers behind this study pinpointed a few reasons that might explain why it’s harder to be thin in our time. We’re exposed to different chemicals and more hormone disruptors, both in our food and in our environments; over the past three decades, our reliance on prescription drugs has increased dramatically, and many of them have side effects that include an increase in appetite; and our gut microbiome could actually be changing from generation to generation, leading to weight gain.

The gut microbiome, or the bacteria that lives in the stomach and intestines, plays a major role in how we digest and absorb nutrients from food as well as how we fight off disease and infection.

More and more research has proven that gut health is integral to overall health, contributing to everything from our mental health to the tone and clarity of our skin. This new study places even more importance on getting a daily serving of probiotics and getting gut health back in check—for overall wellness, and to help you look good in that gold lamé leotard.

Photo credit: VegterFoto via Stocksy

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Michelle Pellizzon

Certified health coach and endorphin enthusiast, Michelle is an expert in healthy living and eating. When she's not writing you can find her running trails, reading about nutrition, and eating lots of guacamole.

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