Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform

Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform

Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform

Clean Living Movements: American Cycles of Health Reform

Synopsis

Over the past 200 years, a health reform movement has emerged about every 80 years. These "clean living" cycles surged with, or were tangential to, a religious awakening. Simultaneously with these awakenings, out groups such as immigrants and/or youth were seen to exhibit behaviors that undermined society. Middle class fear of these "dangerous" classes and a desire to eliminate disease, crime, and other perceived health or social problems led to crusades in each of the three reform eras against alcohol, tobacco, drugs, certain foods, and sexual behaviors. A backlash began to emerge from some segments of the population against reform efforts. After the dissipation of the activism phase, laws made during the reform era often became ignored or repealed. With a few exceptions, during the 30 to 40 year ebb of the cycle, the memory of the movement disappeared from public awareness.

Excerpt

In the early 1970s, there began to be a clamor among health professionals for Americans to change their personal habits and lifestyles. Accompanying this "fitness craze" was an increase in articles, books, and media programming that urged the nation to exercise, give up smoking, and eat a more healthy diet. Concerns about nonmarital sex, alcohol and drugs, out-of-wedlock births, and the new HIV/AIDS epidemic in the early 1980s gave further cause for alarm about perceived risky behaviors and their consequences to the health of the nation. Some individuals and organizations began to advocate public-health programs and public policies to encourage Americans to adopt healthier behaviors. New legislation to effect behavior changes included severe penalties for drunken driving, mandatory use of motorvehicle seatbelts, and warning labels on tobacco, alcoholic beverages, and other products. a "war on drugs," prohibition of smoking in public places, and legislation to curtail use of any alcohol and tobacco among youth and reduce its use among adults ensued.

Comments by my colleagues, government officials, and some publichealth advocates suggested that we as a nation were finally realizing the serious nature of these problems. Based upon new scientific discoveries, it was realized that the time had finally come to eradicate these ills completely from society. However, more cautious scholars, including Jack Blocker, Dwight Heath, David Musto, Harry Levine . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.