The Men Who Made Us Thin

The Men Who Made Us Thin…ironically titled as it focused on the weight loss fads that will more than likely end up with you putting on more weight than you had to start with!

So here’s my summary / a list of what I found really interesting (it’s rather long again, I do apologise!):


– Involves taking a freezing cold bath, replacing breakfast with black coffee and regularly blowing up balloons to flatten your stomach
– “Get skinnier than all your friends”
– Targets young people? Ads were banned in the UK as it was deemed dangerous to target teenagers to adopt unhealthy eating habits
– Faulton (author) reckons it’s not aimed at young people, but uses phrases such as “don’t tell your parents, you should buy scales and hide them from your parents”… I’m not convinced

– Professor Traci Mann: “diets DON’T work”
– looked at 100 clinical studies, over 30 years on commercial weight loss.
– the average weight loss over 2 – 5 years was less than 1kg
– weight slowly comes back, 1 – 2 thirds regained more than they lost
– Mann reckons you’re better off not dieting

– 1944, 36 men, 1500 calories a day for 6 months
– Effects of starvation: weight loss, lose personal skills, want isolation. 1 subject bit another, subjects tried to escape to eat grass, 1 subject chopped his own fingers off with an axe
– Post- experiment subjects gained more weight than before the experiment

– Louis Dublin was the chief statistician at MetLife insurance company in the early 1940s
– Using the data from 4 million customers he found overweight individuals were more likely to die young
– He lowered the levels of “normal, healthy weight” and overnight healthy US citizens were classified as overweight
– US government and fashion soon jumped on the bandwagon, shortly followed by the introduction of diet/weight loss companies

– Over 50 years ago Professor Jules Hirsch looked at the metabolic changes during diet
– Your body thinks you’re starving so does everything it can to keep your weight up

– Founded in 1977 by Daniel Abraham
– Aimed to sell cheap and taste good
– Slim fast powder: 40 ingredients, 1st one is sugar…
– Studies to prove short and medium term effectiveness but nothing long term
– Sold for 1.4bil


– Founded in 1963 by Robert Atkins
– Lose weight and still eat what you want, if you drop carbs you can eat as much fat and protein as you like
– He spent his whole career defending himself against the government, when he died in 2003 they used his death to discredit his work

– Founded when an American housewife realised she didn’t need a quick fix but group therapy
– “no fat person can do it a lone. when it comes to eating, fat people are very stupid”
– Any more effective than just diet? Over 5 years = NO
– Richard Samber, financial director- “Business is successful because it works for only 16%, the 84% have to come back and do it again”

– You have a business where if your business worked you wouldn’t have a business
– People failing and putting weight back on became a good thing for diet companies, as people just kept coming back to their products
– Also helped by people blaming themselves, not diet products, when they can’t lose weight

The companies making money out of diet products are also food producers
– Slim fast is owned by Unilever
– Jenny Craig is owned by Nestle
– Weight watchers was owned by Heinz

– The recent obesity epidemic has created a new revenue stream as the government looks for solutions
– NHS pays for individuals to go to commercial weight loss programs
– Are we getting benefits for the tax money spent in programs? No, of all the people put into weight watchers only 1% would be at ideal weight after 5 years

Apparently it’s not fair to to look at the effects of 12 weeks of weight watchers 5 years down the line… so why do this on NHS if it’s not long term?

We really need to get people to focus on health instead of weight. Would someone be happier if they ate a balanced diet and exercised a bit more? Instead of asking if they’d be happier if they weighed less.

But despite all the evidence, people still can’t resist diets.

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