Happy Monday, a day late

      14 Comments on Happy Monday, a day late

I hope you all enjoyed your Memorial Day … and for those if you not in the U.S., I hope it was a good Monday.

I spent most of the weekend making final updates to a new software release.  It’s Tuesday morning and I still haven’t squeezed in my Monday-night sleep.  I may have to just skip a day.

While taking breaks from programming, I watched a 10-hour series on the History Channel titled “Word War II in HD.”  Lots of film footage, much of it never aired before.  One thing that struck me, besides the hell the combatants lived through, was how lean they all were.  Granted, these were soldiers, sailors and marines who’d been through basic training and months of battles … but still, it was surprising to see scenes that sometimes included dozens of shirtless men, with nary a fat body among them.  Most of them looked rock-solid.

But of course, this was also the 1940s … a decade before Ancel Keys started scaring people away from eating fat.  And just think:  they didn’t even have nutrition labels on their food.


14 thoughts on “Happy Monday, a day late

  1. John Clements

    Not to mention an average metabolism of 25 year olds, a population that selects against unhealthy individuals, a steady diet of coffee and nicotine… but yeah, if you looked at high school pictures from back then, I would imagine you would see fewer portly graduates. A childhood of playing outdoors, walking to school, to town, everywhere. Eating bacon at every meal.

    Now that you mention it, there were a lot of cigarettes in those scenes as well. If I knew I might take a bullet any day, I’d probably smoke ’em if I had ’em.

  2. Soul

    I remembered thinking that idea the past, but forgot about that thought this weekend – soldiers and people of the Bob Hope generation and earlier were thinner than people today. Their diet was different too. It was full of animal fat. Could have come in handy as I had a small debate with some guys about what makes people over weight today. I hope the low carb diet ideas I shared gave some of the guys new ideas about our ancestors old diet.

    Even in the scenes of people back home, working in the munitions plants and such, there weren’t many fat bodies that I could see.

  3. Pete B

    As I recall, one of the problems faced by the US armed services during the second world war was that so many recruits couldn’t meet minimum requirements for height and weight due to the effects of malnutrition during the depression. Now, apparently, the US armed services are faced with the problem of too many recruits who can’t get under the maximum weight limit. Another success story of modern nutritional “science” …

  4. Jonathan

    Maybe all the big ones just got shot first. Like me, they would make too easy a target. 🙂 Of course my friend would tell me that while being this big might make me an easier target the chances of hitting something vital (especially with a knife) are much lower. (what a great friend I have, right?)

    With friends like that …

  5. Paula

    I heard that the school lunch programs began as security for future wars as many of the GIs from WWII were malnourished. Ironic thing is now, many kids are too fat to join the military.

    That WWII in HD is an amazing series. My boys and I are slowly working our way through them.

    Malnourishment sounds more likely than overindulgence for a generation that grew up in the The Depression.

  6. Amy Dungan

    Ah… how did they ever manage without the help of the government? Common sense was still alive back then too. My Grandpa fought in WW II and he knew the meaning of personal responsibility and you can bet he made sure we all did too. 🙂

    The food was probably full of natural fat from grass-fed animals, so people probably just ate until they were satisfied, and given the quality of the food, it didn’t take much.

  7. Paul451

    Combat troops, especially battle-hardened ones, tend to be lean and mean.

    It was autopsies of Korean War soldiers where they found serious arterial atherosclerotic lesions in men that played a role in blaming dietary fat.

    Ancel Keys is who the “K” in K-rations was named after, btw.

    Yup, I’d heard that. I guess he did one or two things right.

  8. Dr. Josh Axe

    Interesting post. While several factors could contribute to the thinness of the men, it is interesting that before the word “dieting” became a part of pop culture we did not face the obesity epidemic we are seeing today. To Paula, it would be interesting research to see if the start of school lunch programs were in fact linked to malnourished GI’s. I’m guessing that kids too “nourished” to enter the military was not the desired outcome.

  9. Katherine

    Mr. Naughton…just today watched Fat Head, after having been indoctrinated with Spurlockian “logic” more than once…kudos! Your film has become a real stepping-stone for me. I was raised with a diet of lots of fresh veggies, fruits, limited lean meat, some soy products, eggs, limited dairy, etc…so, partially good, partially bad…our family even went vegan for a few years, with the exception of my young sister (3-5 years old) whose “tummy hurt” when denied animal products and was fed liberal amounts of eggs. Unlike everyone else in my immediate family, I have struggled with weight problems for years, and am again at my highest weight since high school! That, however, is not the main impetus for my new-found conversion to starting a low-carb way of living. I am 32. Two of my Mother’s friends, both below the age of sixty, have died of cancer in the last year, both of whom chose to “treat” their ailments with vegan/vegetarian diets. One of the dear ladies had been quite the advocate of such a lifestyle for many years. Both women wasted away, the cancer cells devouring their bodies. Both of my maternal grandparents also died of cancer, which I believe was due to poor diet and heavy smoking for most of their lives. I want to stop this cycle in my own life, and I now believe that the incredible research with which I am now armed will be the key! THANK YOU!

    One question: Two years ago I tried The South Beach Diet, and immediately had trouble sleeping, as in I could only sleep 2-3 hours, and that was after rolling around in bed for a few before finally managing to doze off…I did not consume any caffeine, AT ALL. Any thoughts? Has this been a documented or even mentioned “side-effect”?

    I haven’t heard about the insomnia effect from the South Beach diet, although I’ve heard some people having trouble sleeping while in ketosis. I’ve been prone to insomnia for much of my adult life — it seems to come and go — and have found that taking L-Tryptophan supplements helps quite a bit.

    Best of luck changing to a more human-friendly diet, and let us know how it’s going.

  10. Teri Fout

    I was born in 1952 and graduated from high school in 1970. Looking back at pictures from that time and watching old movies and sitcoms from the 60’s and 70’s I’m always struck by how thin everyone looks. I remember just one or two “fat kids” in my classes during elementary school and only a few in jr. high and high school. So much different from today! I have also worked in healthcare for the past 38 years and have seen patients getting bigger and bigger with devestating health consequences from morbid obesity at younger and younger ages. It’s VERY sad. Thanks Tom for all the work you do. I have shared your movie with many people and it has helped open some eyes and minds. Keep up the good work! Teri

    Unfortunately, I became one of those fat kids. I guess I wouldn’t stand out so much today.

  11. Willis Morse

    I’m just working through HBO’s The Pacific now and I’m struck by the same thing. Everyone in the real footage is rail thin and wiry, while the actors (even the leaner) ones look kind of bloated in comparison.

    I had the same reaction watching Leathernecks a while back. You just can’t make an authentic-looking period piece anymore; even today’s actors can’t pull it off.

    I was looking through some crowd footage as my son watched The Banana Splits on Boomerang the other day; same thing.

    It’s pretty noticeable, but to be fair to today’s actors, a lot of the lean ones are also more muscular than the guys I see in those old films. More access to weight machines, I guess.

  12. Bushrat

    I’ve noticed this before in pictures of farm workers and loggers during Australia’s colonial days. They are so lean and rugged compared to modern people. I spent this morning talking to my grandmother about low carb diets, being a recent convert myself. She summed it up pretty well as being how she used to eat as a kid (she grew up pre-ww2) – meat and veggies. The depression didn’t really hit food supply in country towns like hers because they had plently of sheep, cattle, chickens, vegetables and failing that, kangaroos to eat.

    In town they used to slaughter cattle. My grandmother ate organs and cow’s tongue and cooked only in fats as a kid, and when she was young. I think she veered away from that after the fat scare started. Its surprising how much easier it is to talk to her about low carb living and cooking and for her to agree than it is with my own parents, even though my parents cook with fat and aren’t afraid to eat a decent serving of meat. They still follow some common wisdom idiocy though but I’m slowly talking them round.

    As for people my own age I may as well talk to a brick wall.

    BTW, my great grandfather lived until I was ~ two and there is a photo taken of us together. Even though he is near the end of his life he is still tall and lean, standing straight and looking strong and surprisingly healthy. Old people today are mostly hunched over, tired and weak looking but I’ve seen other photos of people from my great grandfather’s age looking the same despite having lived a life of chowing down on red meat and toiling in the sun.

    Some photos and paintings of pre-ww2 australians. Unfortunately these aren’t he ones I was thinking of.






    Back in the early 1980s, I wrote an article for the little magazine that employed me, extolling the virtues of a low-fat diet. An older woman who worked there told me she grew up on a farm and saw lots of relatives chowing down on eggs and sausage and bacon when she was growing up, and they were all long-lived and healthy, so she didn’t buy the low-fat theory. I of course thought she was just old and uninformed. The arrogance of youth.

  13. Katherine

    @ Griff: Thanks for the input! I’ll look at your link pronto. I have Bipolar Disorder and so no sleepy is no bueno! Hopefully I can find a remedy to this issue….

    @ Tom (or whoever has advice): Is there value to taking a vitamin/mineral pill (e.g. One-a-Day)? I have noticed that the horizontal lines in my toenails disappear after several weeks, so I think they are of some benefit : – )

    I take a multi-vitamin and a few other supplements. Since the soil has been depleted of nutrients, I believe we need to fortify a bit.


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