Shannen Findlay

6 things you never knew were shrinking

6 things you never knew were shrinking


1. Chocolate bars

For better or worse, these things are getting smaller and smaller – and you probably haven’t even noticed.

Trying to cut back on carbs and sugar? You’re in luck. Many popular chocolate and snack bars are doing the job for you by shrinking ever so slightly, a 2018 BBC study found. A Snickers bar, for instance, is now 28 per cent lighter than it was four years ago, while Twix bars have lost 20 per cent of their original weight. As chocolate bars become more expensive to make, many companies have opted to downsize instead of changing their recipes or charging customers more. They’re counting on the fact that most buyers won’t notice the difference.

2. Animals

Up until about 100,000 years ago, sloths could be as tall as giraffes and beavers weighed as much as front row forwards. But that changed when homosapiens entered the picture, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Science. Due to rising global temperatures and overhunting of large mammals, the average animal size fell by an estimated 50 to 75 per cent. Experts predict that animals will continue to shrink if humans don’t adjust their behaviour. Worse, many large animals like whales and polar bears could go extinct altogether.

3. Calculators

When Anita Mark VII, one of the world’s first commercially available calculators, was launched in 1961, it could barely fit on the average school desk. But don’t let its size fool you; it could only do basic arithmetic. This personal number cruncher had a $1000 price tag, to boot. Fortunately, both the size and cost of calculators have declined over time. Today, you can slip a basic calculator into your pocket or just use an app on your smartphone.

4. Islands

In 2016, Australian researchers made an alarming discovery: Five islands in the Pacific Ocean had completely disappeared. This was no magic trick, though; the real culprit was climate change. Melting glaciers have caused sea levels to rise, covering the islands – which ranged in size from 2.5-12.4 acres – in the process. While the missing islands were not inhabited by humans, shrinking coastlines on six other islands have forced entire villages to relocate, the researchers found.

5. Car engines

Car engines have come a long way in just a century. Back in 1932, the classic Ford V8 engine weighed a whopping 230 kilograms but delivered just 48 kilowatts of power. Ford’s new EcoBoost engine, by comparison, delivers over triple the amount of power as its predecessor and is only half the weight. Car manufacturing companies are now going greener, too; the new Ford engine reduced its carbon dioxide emissions by 7 per cent.

6. The Australian population

The Australian birth rate dropped to about 1.79 births per woman in 2016, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. That’s almost 16 per cent lower than the replacement rate of 2.1 births per woman, which is the rate predicted to keep a population stable without immigration. Experts believe that the growing number of women waiting to have children – along with a decrease in teen pregnancies – are causing the decline.

Written by Brooke Nelson. This article first appeared in Reader’s Digest. For more of what you love from the world’s best-loved magazine, here’s our best subscription offer.