History of Weight Loss

weight loss

The History of Weight Loss

For most of us, staying healthy and fit means losing unwanted weight. From children to adults, obesity has become more of a problem as the decades pass. However, losing weight has been an obsession for decades, especially as the west became more affluent after the Second World War.

Currently there is a mountain of information on various ideas and methods available to lose excess fat and get fit. Over the years there have been various fads and weight reduction ideas, some quite successful, while others a bit ridiculous.

From celebrities to common people, not many actually manage to escape from the thoughts and pressures of losing weight. And while, over the last decades, the world has witnessed numerous ideas and methods, most of them faded into obscurity. A few, of course, have managed to stand the test of time.

The history of weight loss methods is as exciting as it sounds, and throws lights on all the ideas that became popular in the last few decades and made sensations among masses – almost becoming a trend.

Let’s take a glimpse through them and touch on both the bizarre and useful weight loss ideas of the past.

Cigarettes and the Process of Master Cleanse

Smoking to lose weightIn the 1930-40s there were two major views on how to lose weight. One was believed to be smoking cigarettes, while the other was known as the Master Cleanse. Yes, there was a time when people actually believed that smoking could do something beneficial to the body!

However, the negative impacts of smoking and the high probability of dying from cancer eventually overshadowed the very minor weight loss benefits. Many people, including famous celebrities, had actually taken up smoking to lose weight, much to the delight of the tobacco companies who often used celebrities to promote their products.

The Master Cleanse was another weight loss idea that had griped the masses. A diet of only lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper was found to be more appropriate and better for weight loss. This method has managed to retain certain popularity as, even now, there are people who still follow the master cleanse to get rid of fat and lose those pounds.

Praying to the Almighty

Praying to lose weightYes, you read it right, prayers. It was probably in the 1950s that the idea of losing weight through prayers started doing the rounds. Today anybody would hardly believe it and mostly laugh it off, but back then there was time it had the attention of the mostly Christian dieters.

People were encouraged through the publication of several books and articles during those times, detailing the experience and advice of people losing weight through prayers. Well, given the current scenario, we all can estimate what has been the fate of this trend.

Soups and Groups

Cabbage Soup for Weight LossNow, cabbage soup might not be exactly a tastiest thing to have at the beginning of a meal but it sure has many benefits including weight loss. That’s what people during the 1960s believed when the cabbage soup diet become famous as a way to shed those extra pounds. It included basically a seven day diet plan that apparently ensured weight loss.

Four decades later, it is still one of the weight loss options that are considered by many. The decade also witnessed the formation of several dietary groups that shared details and ideas. Although many of these have ceased to exist in modern times, some people do still share and exchange tips and advice, but it is nothing like staunch dietary groups of 1960s.

The Controversial Diet Pills

Diet PillsThe era of 70s saw a more radical way of losing weight, without the effort or discipline needed. This was the idea of taking pills, and the idea, or rather the method, of diet pills was on high in those times.

Diet pills installed the idea that one can eat as much desired without having to worry about gaining weight, because the pills would absorb the fat and hence no weight gain. It sounded good, except that there is no miracle like this without having severe side effects.

Eventually it was found that the pills were not exactly a healthy solution as many people taking the pills were facing health problems. Result? The FDA pulled the pills out of the market in the early 1980s.

Today, there are hardly any traces of diet pills that can be found and only in some exceptional cases do doctors prescribe them.

The Scarsdale Diet Plan

fruit and vegetablesThe idea of diet plans started to form around the late 1970s and early 1980s. The Scarsdale diet was the very first full-pledged widely accepted diet plan.

High emphasis was given on the intake of fruits, vegetables and protein while considerably lowering the intake of carbohydrates. This entire diet plan was designed by Herman Tarnower and he popularized it through his book.

Several of them quoted it as a starvation diet and very soon it became a fad. However, the Scarsdale diet also led to a few health risks that eventually led the people to move on from it. Surviving on such a diet was not exactly the need of the people at that time!

The Atkins Diet

The most famous and probably a successful diet plan, the 1990s saw the rise of the Atkins diet as one of the major means to weight loss. Although it was designed by Dr. Atkins in the 1970s, it become highly popular in the 1990s and still is. It was based on the fact that intake of protein and fat would not led to weight gain until one avoids all the food items that are high in carbs. It encouraged eating seafood, fish, omega-3 filled food items, red meats, dairy products and low-carb vegetables to ensure not only weight loss but also better health too.

The Present

Over the past decades we have come a long way. With advanced science and technology, there are today more weight loss methods than just diets and pills. Organic foods and nutritious supplements have surfaced as one of the ways to maintain weight and stay healthy. Doctors provide several weight loss therapies and programs to shed the extra pounds in a better way. Most of it involves around eating the right things at the right times.


Obesity and weight lossOver the past 50 years we have been driven to lose weight. This is mostly due to the media promoting the ‘body beautiful’, while trying to sell clothes and beauty products etc. Plus we have the image of our favourite films stars to try and live up to.

Despite this obsession however, there are very good reasons to lose weight. An overweight body puts strain on our organs and wears the body out earlier than necessary
Also, weight loss helps us feel better about ourselves, raising our self esteem, and increases our energy levels.
Living in our modern world, obesity is on the increase due to overeating, reduced activity levels – especially with our children, so now is the best time to start making that effort to increase our life spans and lead a fuller, healthier life.