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Our Lady of Weight Loss

Our Lady of Weight Loss

Sunday’s Puzzle and … Porky, Jumbo and Butterball ~ The sad history of dieting.

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Have you ever wondered when people started to obsess about food and weight? There was a time when no one ‘dieted’ and nasty fat words didn’t exist. Oh yeah – cave men didn’t call each other fat slobs. Those types of words weren’t created until the late 1800’s! In fact, the first corpulent words were “porky” in the 1860’s; “jumbo” in the 1880’s; and “butterball” in the 1890s.
There are some documented cases of dieting that go back more than 1,000 years, but in the United States, our obsession with dieting took root at the end of the 19th century.
By the time World War I rolled around, being fat was seen as unpatriotic!


Food was plentiful and Americans were wolfing it down with a vengeance. Health reformers declared the endless supply of meats, cakes and pies immoral. They preached that gluttony was a gateway to sinful sexual practices (woo hoo!). In addition, they proclaimed that gluttony caused constipation and indigestion.
As Americans entered the 20th century, interest in weight loss grew. ‘Experts’ offered a number of surefire solutions – magic bullets flying everywhere. Somewhere between the main course and dessert, dieting became a national preoccupation. A multi-billion dollar industry was born!
It’s not quite clear why dieting took hold (and hasn’t let go since), but theories point to the abundance of food, the increase of sedentary jobs, public transportation, as well as corsets being out of vogue. In addition, the life insurance industry alleged that thin people, on average, lived longer lives than their fat counterparts.
Funny, isn’t it! Things haven’t changed much in the 120 or so years that we’ve been battling the bulge.
When did you go on your first diet? Leave a comment below and join the Kick in the Tush Club community for weighty discussion!

  • Shelli

    There is a lot of research that goes into highly processed foods that make us want more and more of it. Then there are all the diet pills that don’t really work. Then they invented fat-free which has more sugar and sugar-free which has more fat. No wonder it’s a “multi-billion dollar industry”. I love your programs about common sense and eating nutrient dense foods.
    Keep it coming.
    Shelli

  • Nathanne

    My first diet: When I was 12 in 1956 I went on this “hamburger” diet. I ate one of those frozen beef tenerized steaks that I cooked in a frypan for each meal, and added a half grapefruit at breakfast, a tomato at lunch, and a salad at dinner. This lasted for about two weeks, and then I went nuts, and I gorged on cookies one night. I couldn’t stand to look at one of those steaks any more.

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