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A Short History of Dieting and Diet Pills

Jul 22, 2008
The term "diet" is a reference to what is eaten or consumed by any type of animal (including humans), so technically man -- and woman -- has been dieting for as long as we've been walking the earth. But weight-loss diets are a different story. So who was the first weight-loss dieter? Who first marketed weight loss as a bottle full of diet pills? Join me, and we'll find out.

The First Weight-Loss Dieter?

During the Middle Ages, obesity was considered an incurable condition and was associated with people who with little or no morals. But since the common peasant had could barely get enough to eat to stay alive, obesity wasn't much of a problem.

However, for the wealthy obesity could become an issue. Story has it that William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy during the 11th century, had gained so much weight by 1087 that he could no longer get on his horse. William was famous for leading his army to victory at the Battle of Hastings, and not being able to get up on his trusty steed was hurtful to his image as a courageous leader.

So he came up with a plan to shed a few pounds by going on a strict alcohol diet. Yep, he (or as the story goes) attempted to lose weight by consuming alcohol and nothing but. Obviously, that's a very bad idea. However, William must have experienced some success since he died later that year... after falling off his horse.

The story of William the Conqueror's attempts at weight loss is mostly rumor and conjecture. But if it's true, then it is the first recorded instance we have of an attempt to modify one's diet specifically to lose weight.

The Low Carb Diet

When you think about the low-carbohydrate diet, the first thing that comes to mind is probably Dr. Robert Atkins, creator of the Atkins Diet. But the truth is that Dr. Atkins based his diet plan on the writings of one William Banting, and Englishman who wrote was is perhaps the first diet book.

During the mid-19th century, William Banting had tried to lose weight using a variety of methodologies such as fasting. However, under the supervision of his physician, Dr. William Harvey, Banting finally found success. Dr. Harvey put Banting on a low-carbohydrate diet free from starches and saccharine, encouraging the intake of proteins, greens, and fruits.

So successful was Banting that he felt a need to tell the world, so he published a book about it. Today, Banting's name is used to mean "diet" in England.

The Advent of Diet Pills

By the 20th century, science was advancing in the area of how the human body works. Marketing was also advancing, and as obese persons were discovered as a mark for snake oil salesmen, the market for diet pills began to grow.

It's not certain what the first diet pill to enjoy widespread success was, but modern diet pills work by modifying the metabolism or suppressing the appetite. The diet pills market is bigger today than it ever has been with a hoard of both prescription and over the counter dieting drugs available, and even many "natural" diet pills being marketed to the world.

The snake oil salesman is still alive and well in today's diet pills market, so watch your step and talk with your doctor.
About the Author
GD Labs (http://sybervision.com/reviews/reviews.php) offers reviews of modern diet pills to help you select the best solution for you. The author, Art Gib, is a freelance writer.
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