Is Obesity New?
In 1934 there was a doctor named Hilde Bruch, who immigrated to New York City. The first thing she noticed upon her arrival was that the children she saw in the streets were obese. Children, obese, in 1934? Which, when you think about it is really bizarre. How can it be possible that in 1934 there would be so many children running around New York City in what she termed a ‘bloated and blown up’ state. It’s almost unimaginable! At this time in history, there were no fast food places back then, there was no such thing as super size me, foods weren’t being processed yet, and high fructose corn syrup didn’t even exist! In fact, when you think about the era of 1934, that year was during the great depression. These were the days of the ‘Grapes Of Wrath’, people putting all their belongings onto their trucks, in the hopes of moving to an area in the USA where there might be jobs. At that time, there were line ups at soup kitchens and homeless families were standing around barrels burning whatever they could get a hold of to create heat, unprecedented poverty haunted America, six out of every ten people were standing in bread lines for food.
In 1939 this paediatrician, Bruch, started publishing studies that she had conducted to do with the obese children that she had the opportunity to treat. What she had learned was that they ate excessive amounts of food and that’s all she could identify at that time. The studies that she conducted were based in a solution of instruction on how to eat less to both children and/or parents.What she learned was that nothing actually really worked. In order to be able to maintain a lower weight, the children had to be able to live on a semi-starvation diet.
What became very interesting about the work of Bruch, was what she recounted in a book that she wrote in 1957. What she had found was that between her original work in 1939 and the treatment of obesity up until 1957 had not changed. The main ingredient for losing weight remained at; eat less, exercise more.
So basically, her studies were based on previous studies that have been conducted since the 1800’s to do with obesity. Interestingly enough, what had been determined all the way back from the 1840’s was, that a cure for obesity was to live cheaply on meat, in 1864. In 1869, it was determined that vegetable based foods were fattening and a cure for obesity was determined to be abstinence from carbohydrates. A fellow by the name of Banting in 1862 published his experience of trying to lose weight, which was later known as the Banting System, in which he cut out from his diet; bread, butter, milk, sugar, beer, and potatoes. Bruch in her work, also determined that meat is not fat producing. But the fat producing foods she determined were the innocent foods that no one thought about being, such as bread and sweets.
Between 1943 and 1952 Stanford University published a general rule of ‘A Guide To Eating’ with a list of 8 do nots. Do not eat or you will gain weight and not keep it off;
Number 1, was anything to do with sugar.
Number 2, was anything to do with sugar.
Number 3, was anything to do with sugar.
Number 4, was anything to do with flour.
Number 5, was anything to do with pasta, potatoes, beans or peas.
Number 6, was anything to do with fried foods.
Number 7, was anything to do with sugared drinks.
Number 8, was not to have any of the foods we just listed.
So the list of ‘you can eat as much as you like’ published in 1951 in Britain consists of 5 things.
Number 1, meat.
Number 2, green vegetables.
Number 3, eggs.
Number 4, cheese.
Number 5, unsweetened fruit.
Well, there you go. I am still reeling from the thought that kids in 1934, years before the Alfred Hitchcock movie ‘Psycho’ came out, were obese! It blows my mind, because the food and why adults and children are fat, for today make sense, but in 1939? Really? I guess the reason why the studies of yesterday were not taken seriously, all boils down to convenience, politics, and marketing. In those days advertisements could say anything, false advertising was not a concern.
But damn, finding out that the leading country known for their ever rising obesity crisis is the country that had the key to weight loss since basically the 1900’s? That is a great depression.
On the quest to lose 50 pounds in a year. Can she do it? Only time will tell....with the help of this blog.