Calories & Corsets: A History of Dieting Over 2,000 Years
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This is an enlightening and entertaining social history of how we have tried (and failed) to battle the bulge over two millennia. Today we are urged from all sides to slim down and shape up, to shed a few pounds or lose life-threatening stones. The media's relentless obsession with size may be perceived as a twenty-first-century phenomenon, but as award-winning historian Louise Foxcroft shows, we have been struggling with what to eat, when and how much, ever since the Greeks and the Romans first pinched an inch. Meticulously researched, surprising and sometimes shocking, "Calories and Corsets" tells the epic story of our complicated relationship with food, the fashions and fads of body shape, and how cultural beliefs and social norms have changed over time. Combining research from medical journals, letters, articles and the dieting bestsellers we continue to devour (including one by an octogenarian Italian in the sixteenth century), Foxcroft reveals the extreme and often absurd lengths people will go to in order to achieve the perfect body, from eating carbolic soap to deliberately swallowing tapeworm. This unique and witty history exposes the myths and anxieties that drive today's multi-billion pound dieting industry - and offers a welcome perspective on how we can be healthy and happy in our bodies.
seven Mrs P.’s weight had dropped to 145 lb, a loss of forty-five pounds. At the start of the day Banting urged dieters to begin with a tablespoon of a special alkaline corrective cordial in a wine glass of water, then at breakfast: 5–6 0z beef mutton, kidneys, broiled fish, bacon or cold meat – NOT pork or veal A large cup of tea or coffee (without milk or sugar) A little biscuit, or 1 0z of dry toast (generally taken with a tablespoon of spirit to soften it) Total: 6 0z of solids, 9 0z of
important from the point of view of the will power of the person concerned in following a strictly scientific reducing diet’. It had often been remarked, wrote Claxton, that the civilised races dig their graves with their teeth. Everyone, Claxton reminded his readers, should remember that fat must come from somewhere: ‘If it does not come from food,’ he asked, ‘where does it come from?’ People had to understand the correlation between intake and output. Some fat people consistently overate, as
included a new tune called ‘The Fat Boy Bounce’ put out by the Mills Music Company, and ‘The Fat Boy Cigar’ sold by Bering Cigars. Physical culture for men had also become big business. Successful bodybuilders on both sides of the Atlantic such as Eugen Sandow (1867–1925), Jørgen Peter Müller (1866–1938) and Thomas Inch (1881–1963) had been promoting exercise regimens for a taut, manly muscularity for decades, but it was Charles Atlas (1893–1972) who really began the craze among Joe Public.
into his regimen over some sixty years. His theory of physical development came to him, he said, when he was watching the lions at the Prospect Park Zoo: they didn’t lift weights, they just stretched their bodies to achieve their muscular beauty and strength. Angelo set about pushing one set of his muscles against another and apparently doubled his weight in just one year so that, by the time he was nineteen years old, he was a professional Coney Island strong man, standing 5 ft 10 in. tall,
also prescribed for anhedonia, an inability to experience pleasure and a condition of depressive lethargy which could also cause sufferers to overeat in compensation for their emotional restlessness – they could never be satisfied and grew fat. By 1952, more than 60,000 pounds of amphetamines were being produced annually in the United States, enough for nearly 3 billion 10 mg doses. By the summer of 1970, at the peak of the Vietnam War, 8 per cent of all prescriptions were for amphetamines, a