Home / Health / The curious, often unhealthy weight loss methods of the past included smoking cigarettes and eating tapeworms.

The curious, often unhealthy weight loss methods of the past included smoking cigarettes and eating tapeworms.

Welcome to the diet season, this time of year, when people are looking for an over-use of the holidays for a reset.

There is a wide range of options for those who want to lose weight or turn away a winter buck and some of them are actually working. Some of the trendiest weight loss programs, from temporary fasting to the basic diet of Tom Brady, may seem a bit strange or overdone – until you consider some of the crazy or even dangerous things (tapeworms?) That we've done in the past ,

First, however, a little history about weight and weight loss in the United States. Before the 20th century, few people cared if someone had gained a few pounds. A broad center was seen as a sign of prosperity and health. Joan Jacobs Brumberg, author of "The Body Project: An Intimate Story of American Girls," says that Americans "feel uncomfortable with extreme thinness because they signal the disappearance of diseases such as tuberculosis and cancer."

Then several things changed that view. One of them was that insurance companies that had prepared actuarial tables that examined risk factors related to job, age, gender, height, and weight became more complex. The "average" weight for men and women changed to "ideal" size and weight at the beginning of the 20th century, says Susan Speaker, a historian at the National Library of Medicine, because insurance companies recognize a link between obesity and early mortality. These charts appeared on the walls of doctors' offices.

Fashion also played a role. In the 1

920s, as the flapper look diminished, the women wore slimmer, figure-hugging dresses that often ended just below the knees and bared their arms. Plump did not seem to please in this clothes. The new-world advertising world was ready to start with solutions. The result? Here are seven of the strangest – and often unhealthy – strategies to get thin.

Smoking instead of snacking. In an advertisement for Lucky Strike cigarettes from the year 1928 it says: "reach a luck instead of a candy", until the ready-made industry threatened with legal steps. In 1930, the ad was rewritten to say, "We do not believe that smoking Lucky Strike Cigarettes brings modern figures or reduces meat. We explain that if you are tempted to make yourself too good, if you "reach us" instead, you will avoid the over-indulgence of things that cause excessive weight, and avoid over-indulgence, a modern, graceful one Maintain shape. "This claim is true," says George Bray, a professor of medicine at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, because cigarettes "stimulate energy use" (or burn calories) and are likely to substitute snacks for some users. And those who quit smoking tend to gain weight by replacing the oral satisfaction of smoking with food. But no one can call cigarette smoking healthy.

Twinkies sitting on a shelf. In 2010, a professor only tried a 10-week diet with twinkies, Doritos, Oreos and other junk food. He lost 27 pounds. Today he says the diet helped him to start his weight loss. (Daniel Acker / BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Speed ​​pills to quench your appetite. Amphetamines were first prescribed after World War II. They were generally discontinued in 1979 when addiction and abuse potential became better known. Amphetamines were used during the war on the battlefields to help sleep-related soldiers stay awake and alert. After the war, pharmaceutical company Smith Kline & French began selling medications for weight loss and depression. "I'm old enough to remember how I used to take amphetamines all night long to learn, and then I would not eat for two days," says Brumberg, who is 74 years old. Similar to amphetamines were the "rainbow tablets" of the 1940s. "50s and 60s, a colorful array of pills containing laxatives, diuretics and amphetamines and associated with multiple deaths Although amphetamines are excreted, methamphetamine (yes, meth) is still approved by the Food and Drug Administration for Approved for short-term weight loss of certain individuals, says Bray.

A diet "sweets" with an unfortunate name.

Then there was Ayds, a fudgelige candy, which should be taken as an appetite suppressant before meals.Ayds was in the 1950s An advertisement shows a skinny woman wearing a yellow shirt dress (which today does not look larger than size 4) and says, "And I love being a size 10 again to be! "But in those little brown squares was some benzocaine, an oral anesthetic, presumably the taste Budding would numb. Later, Ayds was infused with phenylpropanolamine, a decongestant that is also used in urinary incontinence in dogs. But when the AIDS crisis hit in the 1980s, the word association seemed just too much. Ayds was taken off the market in the late eighties.

Getting Junk Food. Also referred to as a "Twinkie Diet" – this approach – more of an experiment than a serious diet – was tested in 2010 by Mark Haub, Professor of Human Nutrition at Kansas State University. For 10 weeks, Haub ate Twinkies, Doritos, Oreos and other junk food exclusively, but his calorie limit was about 1500 calories a day, well over 800 calories below what he would need for maintaining his weight. And he lost 27 pounds. Today, Haub says he has done all but seven of the lost pounds, but he thinks the diet helped him start his weight loss. "I've come to the point where I wanted to make some lifestyle changes and used it to start this process," he says. His current diet focuses on whole grains, fruits and vegetables as well as more mindful food.

grapefruit. Occasionally referred to as "the 18-day diet of Hollywood" or simply as a grapefruit diet. This plan, which has existed in some form since the 1930s and was revived in the 1980s, limited food to almost nothing but grapefruit and perhaps even a hard-boiled egg. It was between 400 and 800 calories a day. Hillel Schwartz, author of "Never Satisfied: A Cultural History of Diet, Fantasies, and Fat," says that the principle of one of the historic diets that relied on some sort of acidic substance (see "tablespoon of tablespoon" below) was that The acid in grapefruit would dissolve the fat in the body. To be sure, a diet with so few daily calories is likely to lead to weight loss, so yes, many on this diet lose weight. However, being stupefied often meant that dieters developed binge eating and weight gain after the end of the diet.

The tapeworm cure. Khloé Kardashian might have been joking when she said, "I would do anything to get a tapeworm" to lose weight, but Victorian women took this approach seriously and even some contemporary dieticians have tried. The concept is that a bowel worm living in the gut consumes calories that could otherwise feed the human host. Elizabeth Tucker, co-author of "Folk Culture in the Digital Age," said by email that she was examining a doctor in Tijuana who offered to provide tapeworms for weight loss if she came to Mexico for them. She says she rejects this because she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, and knew that the ingestion of worms can "have quite serious consequences," including bowel obstruction and damage to the brain, liver, and eyes. Tucker says there was even an episode about death from tapeworm in the TV show "1000 Ways to Die". She adds, "Tapeworms appeal to us because they seem like little friends eating up all the food that does us no good. "Negatively, the parasites can damage or kill you. Oh, and there is no evidence that the tapeworm diet ever really worked.

A spoon of vinegar. The "apple cider vinegar diet for weight loss" experienced a growing reputation a few years ago. The idea is to take a few tablespoons of vinegar, diluted with water, before a meal. It states that weight loss is induced by reducing appetite and even insulin levels. Robert Shmerling, senior editor at Harvard Health Publishing and Rheumatologist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, says that no studies have clearly shown that vinegar leads to weight loss, although it can lead to nausea that results in fewer people eat. The downside, according to Shmerling via email, is: "Being very sour, it can damage the enamel or irritate the esophagus," which can lead to acid reflux.

Nutritionists say that people focus their attention and efforts to reduce vacation weight, it's worth knowing that many diets can help you lose pounds fast; The problem is keeping them away from the diet.

"The real challenge is what you do when the weight is on the plateau," says Bray. "For most people, they can not say that," because maintaining weight loss requires lasting changes in eating habits and lifestyle.

That's one of the reasons, Bray says, that there is an eternal market for new fast diets. "None of them achieves the long-term goal of a cure for obesity."

Gabriella Petrick, food historian in Boston, says Americans' bodies have changed in the 20th century. "As a society, we're getting fatter," she says.

At the same time, this means a growing understanding. "Once we put on weight, it's so hard to take it off." The newer thinking is, "Do not dress it first."

No one has figured out how goes, she says.

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