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Less housework to blame for womens' bigger waistlines

Friday - 5/25/2012, 4:23pm  ET

housewife.jpg
Think of all the cardiovascular effort it will take this woman to clean the kitchen! (Courtesy visualize.me)

WASHINGTON - Oh yeah, they went there. A new British study says extra elbow grease spent doing housework kept women more trim in the 1950s as compared with the modern woman's measurements.

Women's waistlines have grown six inches over the past 60 years because they don't do as much housework as their grandmothers, the researchers say. Housewives in the 1950s housewives used to burn 1,000 calories a day by doing the chores, but modern appliances make those chores easier. Now, many more women work full-time and have a more sedintary lifestyle.

The research, completed by Saga to mark the Queens' Diamond Jubilee, surveyed 8,000 men and women on their waist sizes, calorie intake and lifestyle and then compared those results with the average statistics for adults in 1952.

The British study coincides with the Queen Elizabeth II's 50th anniversary of assuming the throne, to analyze the changes in culture in the years since she has been queen.

Not only did the average woman 50 years ago eat less, an average of 1,818 calories a day compared with today's 2,178 caloric average, she had a more active lifestyle.

Improved gadgets have also significantly reduced the time and effort required for housework, Doctor Ros Altmann, Saga's director-general, tells the Daily Mail.

"If you think back to the 1950s most women would not even have had a washing machine," she says.

"They wouldn't have had duvets so the simple task of making a bed would have demanded far more physical activity. Women would have burned a significant number of calories just keeping the house going."

Also with an average of one car per family, many housewives walked to complete their chores.

"I think there's some element with the availability of fast food, but women in the 1950s would still have eaten chips and puddings. It seems to me that the physical activity demanded by keeping a home was ensuring women were fitter and thinner than they are today," Altman told the Daily Mail.

Fans of the show "Mad Men" are familiar with the style of that era that emphasized women's waists and the expectations on 1950's housewives' to keep up the home.

WTOP's Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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