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The Idea File

It Was Easier to Be Skinny in the ’80s

Aug 23, 2019 | 8 videos
Video by The Atlantic

More than a third of adults in the United States are obese. This statistic is often attributed to a confluence of unhealthy dietary practices, sedentary lifestyles, and genetics. But we may be missing the bigger picture.

A 2015 study revealed that people today are 10 percent heavier than they were in the 1980s—even with the same diets and exercise regimens. A new episode of The Idea File investigates the plethora of complex factors that may be contributing to our increasing BMI, including a changing microbiome and toxic chemicals in the environment.

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Authors: Jackie Lay, Vishakha Darbha, Catherine Spangler

About This Series

Deconstructing the way we live, with The Atlantic's writers