The Bizarre History of Fad Diets - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


The Bizarre History of Fad Diets

Featuring the paleo diet, the first diet pills, tapeworms, and arsenic…


We live in a diet-obsessed society. I started my first weight loss plan during my pre-teen years when I felt fat for the first time. Constantly switching from  fad diet to fad diet, I was hoping that this would one be the key to weight loss. It didn’t take me long to notice that everyone seemed to be an expert in dieting – in fact, it seemed that everybody was on a diet at all times.

The Bizarre History of Fad Diets

There’s a lot of talk about healthy eating: what works, what doesn’t. Which plan actually produces results, which just sheds water weight, and which diets cross the line.

We aren’t the only ones addicted to weight watching, either: our ancestors thought of some crazy ideas for losing those love handles. Here’s a brief history of our insane obsession with dieting.

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Frances is an upcoming multimedia journalist that spends her time between New York City and Philadelphia. On the weekends, she experiments with new recipes and uncovers cool destinations to write about.

Reader Discussion: 5 Comments

  1. Hannah Mayers

    I really find reading history of things a lot of fun. It gives me a sense of knowing why things (or people) behave the way they do today. It’s interesting to know that “diet(ing)” exists years and years ago (even though media was not really influential when it comes to the way people look and weigh during those times).

    I’m not particularly (or very much concerned with my weight), what concerns me most is being healthy. Being thin doesn’t mean you’re healthy 🙂 

    Proper intake of right nutrients should be the number one concern!

  2. Courtney Watson

    This is really an informative and well-researched article! Very well-historically presented and I love it! To me, the best diet is still regular sleep and exercise (as Jen pointed out). Most of the time, I wonder, “why it’s so easy to gain weight, but very difficult to lose it it.” Urgh!

  3. Great article! It's interesting to see that people have resisted the healthy weight loss formula (as Jen pointed out: regular sleep, eat better, and exercise) in favor of quicker methods. I'd always thought these crash diets were more of a recent thing!

  4. Jen Spillane

    Hilarious article! I agree with Sara–reading about these crazy trends makes me wonder what trends we accept as normal today that we will see as crazy tomorrow. I think all of these fads are unfortunately a way to add novelty to something that is really pretty straight-forward. I think most of us know deep down what we need to do to lose weight. We need to eat better, get regular sleep and exercise. But that's not nearly as interesting or exciting as one of these diets. They make weight loss seem like an adventure, a quest, when in fact making a real lifestyle change is all about how you handle the daily grind.

  5. Sara E Liz

    Considering that so many people found these normal at the time, it makes me wonder what sort of popular fad diets now will be deemed ridiculous, unhealthy and ineffective in the future. I suppose history does repeat itself since so many people are trying the juice-only diet, similar to the liquid diet back in the day. Some believe that you can't actually get the true nutrients from this diet so I suppose Frances is right, this will probably be another silly fad in a few years.

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