Four generations ago, the poor were as lean as fence posts, their arms bony and faces gaunt. To our recent ancestors, the idea that today even the poor eat too much might be harder to fathom than a jetliner rising from the runway.
Many other aspects of contemporary life, taken for granted by those of us who live it, would dazzle our recent ancestors. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the average American lifespan was forty-one years; now it is seventy-seven years, equating to almost twice as much time on earth for the typical person.
From Gregg Easterbrook's The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse.