A Timeline of Strange Health Fads

1727: Swamps make you fat!
In his book The Causes and Effects of Corpulence, Thomas Short stated that overweight people tended to live near swamps and his diet advice was to move to drier places.

1898: A cough suppressant with a kick!
German drug maker Bayer Company found a neat way to get rid of a cough: heroin. In fact, heroin was sold as an OTC cough syrup in the US until 1917.

Early 1900s: The Great Masticator
Horace Fletcher extolled the virtues of “Fletcherism” — chewing, but not swallowing, one’s food until it turned into liquid. Fletcher claimed that he only defecated twice a month, and that it smelled like “warm biscuits.” Ha ha ha!

Early 1900s: It’s not what you’re eating … it’s what’s eating you!
A weight loss pill was invented that contained tapeworm eggs. When the parasite hatched, it would eat all food that reached the intestines —including all the nutrition— and could grow up to 9’.

1979: She was probably hungry
The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet, written by Dr. Herman Tarnower, promised fast weight loss by consuming only 1,000 calories per day (recommended daily calories for an adult woman is 1,800-2,200). Tarnower was shot to death by his jilted lover Jean Harris in 1980.

1990: Skinny & stinky
Cabbage soup. Mmmm. Cabbage ferments in your gut causing bloat and gas, so a whole week of nothing but cabbage …

1990s: Living on Air
“Breatharianism” is a cult-like spiritual practice that promotes living on air, tea, water and sunlight. Since the 1990s, five people have died following this regime.

2000s: Voodoo Dolly Ears
Ear stapling supposedly helps suppress appetite by piercing the inner cartilage of the ear. It has never been proven to work AND it can cause infection.

2000s: You are a grown-up, eat like a grown-up
The Baby Food Diet was extolled by celebrities, and the food itself is fairly pure (and puree) but completely unsustainable for an adult appetite.

girl with champagne glass

Surprising But True Health Facts

  • The Obesity Action Coalition believes that just a 5-10% (often only about 20 lbs.) loss in body weight can significantly boost health benefits.
  • Quitting smoking not only significantly lowers risk of illness, but it increases short-term memory.
  • Smokers who exercise are twice as likely to quit.
  • Learning to manage stress can decrease the risk of dementia.
  • Those who regularly eat fast food are 51% more likely to develop depression.
  • Sleeping less than 7 hours at night has been linked to higher body weight, and sleeping longer at night lessens the impact of the obesity gene.
  • Regular exercise improves goal-setting, organization and self-discipline.
  • Sugar is as damaging as both alcohol and cigarettes.fast food and name

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