Timeline of weight management

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19th century "In the mid-1800s, the ideal of both masculine and feminine beauty was thin and romantic. The bad news for overweight people was clothing became form-fitting for both sexes. Women's dresses required a tiny laced-in waist from 1850 to 1920. Men wore tights or breeches with tight-fitting jackets until around the end of the 19th century when looser trousers or pants came in style. "[1]

Full timeline

Year Event type Details Location
3rd century BC "Dieting goes back at least as far as the 3rd century BC, according to Louise Foxcroft, author of Calories & Corsets: A History of Dieting Over 2000 Years. She says that followers of the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates recommended a diet of light and emollient foods, slow running, hard work, wrestling, sea-water enemas, walking about naked and vomiting after lunch. The Greeks believed that being fat was morally and physically detrimental, the result of luxury and corruption, so food and living should be plain with nothing to unduly stir the passions or arouse the appetites. This was the first documented diet or "diatia" (Foxcroft, 2011)."[2]
600 AD "Around 600 AD Pope Gregory defined gluttony not just as eating too much, but also as eating wildly or eagerly or eating between meals. He said that "picky" eaters and gourmands were also guilty of this deadly sin."[1]
1066 AD "The world's first liquid diet appeared around 1066 A.D. William the Conquerer grew so fat that he had problems mounting his horse. When he fell off and landed head first, he had to pretend he was kissing the ground in joy. He gave up food and went on a drinking man's diet -- all he consumed was alcohol. "[1]
1087 "After the ancient Greeks, it is believed that it wasn't until the year 1087 that dieting was mentioned again in literature. Apparently, that is when William the Conqueror had become too heavy to ride his horse, so he decided that he would stop eating solid foods and only partake in a "liquid diet" that consisted only of alcohol in an attempt to lose weight."[2] “In 1087, William the Conqueror replaced food with alcohol and slimmed down enough to resume riding his horse. England’s William Banting published one of the first diet manuals in 1863, “Letter on Corpulence,” in which he advocated for replacing bread, butter, milk, sugar, and potatoes with lean meats, vegetables, dry toast, and “good claret, sherry, or Madeira.””

[3] ||

1550 " In 1550 John Halle advised people to eat simply because, "More die of gluttony than the sword or the plague.""[1]
1558 "The first actual diet book came out in 1558 and is still in print. Luigi Cornaro was an extremely overweight Italian who had an ephiphany when he was around 40 years old. Tired of being overweight, feeling out of control, and unable to have sex, he limited himself to 12 ounces of food a day and 14 ounces of wine. His book, "The Art of Living Long," advises others to do the same. Cornaro lived to be almost a hundred years old, and toward the end of his life, he only ate egg yolks."[1] Italy
1614 "In 1614 Giacomo Castelvetro published "The Fruits, Herbs and Vegetables of Italy," also still in print. Castelvetro criticized the English for eating too much meat and sugar, and promoted the Italian way of eating fresh vegetables. His book was a forerunner to today's popular "Mediterranean Diet.""[1] Italy
1660 "In 1660 famine swept Europe, and people ate hunger-suppressing foods like potatoes. Starving cartoonists made fun of the very fat George IV, calling him the "Prince of Whales.""[1]
1730 "The second real diet book was "The Natural Method of Cureing the Diseases of the Body," by Dr. George Cheyne in 1730. Dr. Cheyne was grossly fat. He went on a diet of milk and vegetables but the moment he went back to regular foods, he regained it. He became a lifelong vegetarian, and wrote that "the nervous diseases of man come from confined animals. I cannot find difference between feeding on human flesh or animal flesh,” an attitude that still exists today among certain vegetarians."[1]
1776 “Similar reports about cases in 1776 are also presented, confirming that some women were using vinegar for weight loss”[4]
1779 “Hoodia was discovered in 1779 by Colonel Robert Jacob Gordon Ephedra, Hoodia, Acai & More! Many dietary supplements promoted for weight loss contain added caffeine or an herbal source—such as guarana (Paullinia cupana), kola (or cola) nut (Cola nitida), and yerba maté (Ilex paraguariensis)—that naturally contains caffeine”[5]
1817 “Although James Parkinson reported weight loss in his first publication on PD in 1817, only recently has the attention been focused on body weight change in PD patients”[6]
1825 Literature "In 1825 Billat-Savarin wrote "The Physiology of Taste or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy," and argued that "fat is not a disease but a lamentable result of an inclination to which we give way." Fat people must give up bread and flour-based foods, root vegetables like potatoes, sugar and starches, and eat only fruits, vegetables and lean meats. This was the forerunner of Atkins, South Beach, Paleo, Caveman and other modern low-carb regimes."[1]
1830 "In 1830 Sylvester Graham, inventor of the graham cracker, wrote that fat is bad for your health, and makes you corrupt morally and sexually promiscuous. He advised parents to teach temperate eating as a matter of morals. Graham lead health retreats, preaching vegetarianism and the avoidance of tea, coffee, tobacco and alcohol."[1]
1832 “The idea behind BMI was proposed in 1832 by the statistician Adolphe Quetelet, who wasn’t trying to define a healthy weight but to model a bell curve or normal distribution of human body sizes”

[7] “That's why one of the most widely used gauges of whether a person needs to shed pounds is body mass index (BMI) — an indicator of body fatness developed by Belgian statistician Adolphe Quetelet in 1832 that's based on the ratio of height to weight”[8] ||

1833 " In 1833 Dr. Gustav Zander invented a belt-driven fat massager that wrapped around the body to jiggle fat away even as it cured gout, arthritis, nervous exhaustion, ladies' ailments, and made life worth living again."[1]
1835 "The development Adolphe Quetelet’s ‘average man’ in 1835, generated a methodological framework through which ‘normal’ physicality could be distinguished, including what constituted an average body weight”[9]"
1856 "In 1856 Dr. A.W. Moore, who himself had to battle overweight, published a diet guide that included a section where readers recorded what they ate at each meal along with their weights."[1]
1860 "In 1860 an English undertaker by the name of William Banting weighed 202 pounds on a five foot five inch frame. Like most dieters, he tried everything to lose weight, including eating lighter foods, swimming, spas, and laxatives. He finally lost 50 pounds on a diet he invented himself, and went on to publish it in a pamphlet called "Letter on Corpulence." The pamphlet sold thousands of copies all over the world, and so many people were on it that the term "I am banting" meant "I am on a diet"."[1] United Kingdom
1863 “It was 1863 when William Banting, an English funeral director, first publicised the weight-reduction method that had worked for him, a diet high in proteins and low in fats and carbohydrates”[10] “Low-carbohydrate diets were introduced by a London undertaker, William Banting, in 1863 and became so popular that one word for dieting was “banting.”” [11] “The analysis by Bravata et al of existing data on low-carbohydrate diets, a similar diet that was originally introduced by Banting in 1863, 5 is enlightening, particularly when the authors compare the homogeneous groups of studies. The study findings illustrate that calories do count and that low-carbohydrate diets produce weight loss by reducing calorie intake, thus reaffirming that the first law of thermodynamics articulated by von Helmholtz6 still applies to humans”

[12] ||

1881 "One book from 1881 even advised governments to arrest and imprison fat people."[1]
1883 “While Banting taught “fat makes fat”, Germany’s Prof Ebstein treatised in 1883 that fat is produced “merely by overeating and drinking””[10]
1895 In 1895 “Gipsy Countess” was told: “Avoid foods containing starch and sugar, and do not drink much with your meals. A glass of hot water before going to bed will be found beneficial . . .” [10]
1903 15 “In 1903, the Committee on Physical Deterioration was established in an attempt to improve the health of the nation”[9]
1914 “In 1914, officials of the American Medical Association decided to analyze Pinkham's compound. It turned out to be twenty per cent pure alcohol and eighty per cent common vegetable extracts.”[13]
1917 "In 1917, the weight-loss industry began to focus on calories when Dr. Lulu Hunt Peters published Diet and Health (Peters, 1918). The success of her book was attributed to the concept of counting calories. It sold more than two million copies and became the first bestselling American diet book. Dr. Peters urged readers to view the calorie as a measurement and rather than judge meals by portion size. It was recommended that the amount of calories in any given food were counted and totaled each day. She concluded that to lose weight it was important to stay under 1,200 calories a day."[2][1] United States
1933–1938 "“From 1933 to 1938, it was sold over-the-counter to more than 100,000 people. However, in 1938, DNP was pulled from the market due to safety concerns as cases of poisoning, deaths, and other serious complications emerged”"[14]
1930s "There was the grapefruit diet of the 1930s (in which people ate half a grapefruit with every meal out of a belief that the fruit contained fat-burning enzymes) and the cabbage-soup diet of the 1950s (a flatulence-inducing plan in which people ate cabbage soup every day for a week alongside low-calorie meals)."[15]
1956 “There appears to be a band-width in protein amount and concentration where relatively more protein is more satiating and promotes less energy intake (Figs. 1–4), supported by relatively elevated plasma amino acid concentrations, anorexigenic hormones, or energy expenditure, feeding back on the central nervous system. Mellinkoff(38) suggested already in 1956 that an elevated concentration of blood or plasma amino acids, which cannot be channeled into protein synthesis, serves as a satiety signal for a food intake regulating mechanism and thereby results in depressed food intake”[16]
1959 “Phentermine (Lomaira, Adipex-P) is a weight loss drug created in 1959. Doctors recommend using it for short-term weight loss along with topiramate, diet, and daily exercise”[17]
1960s "The 1960s saw the beginning of the massive commercialization of dieting in the U.S. "[15]
1960s–1970s "Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initially argued that dietary supplements were “drugs” and therefore had to be regulated as such. The administration therefore wanted to regulate the potency and the combination of the ingredients in supplements, just as they would do for other drugs”

[18] ||

1961 "". Since 1961 the American Heart Association had suggested a diet low in cholesterol and saturated fat (1), and this was incorporated into Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 1980, with an upper limit of 30% of total calories to be derived from fat (2)."[19][20]
1970s “Since the 1970’s the average caloric intake has increased by 600 calories per day. Over a week, 500 extra calories per day will cause weight gain of 1 pound and 52 pounds over a year”[21]
1975–2014 "The global average body mass index (BMI) of women increased from 22.1 kg/m2 in 1975 to 24. 4 kg/m2 in 2014, and that of men increased from 21.7 kg/m2 to 24.2 kg/m2 over the same period”[22] “This phenomenon is growing because the prevalence of obesity all over the world has increased from 3.2% in 1975 to 10.8% in 2014 in men, and from 6.4 to 14.9% in women [34]”

[23] ||

1977 “First, with a major report issued in 1977 by the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs, and then with studies by the National Academy of Sciences and other research groups, the government started telling Americans to alter their diets if they wanted to have long and healthy lives"[13]
1980s “It was not until the 1980s that modern nutrition science began to meaningfully consider nutrition in association with chronic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and cancer”[24]
1980s "By the 1980’s reduced dietary fat had been replaced by increased refined carbohydrate (2), and evolving technologies, including the personal computer, had reduced physical activity (5,6)"[20]
1984–1985 "“The use of tablet forms of glucomannan was reported to be associated with seven cases of esophageal obstruction in 1984–1985 in Australia [99]. Users should therefore be cautious when taking glucomannan tablets. Powdered and capsule forms have not been associated with this effect [147]”

[25]" ||

1985 “In 1985, no state had an obesity rate above 15%; currently, more than 20% of adults in all states are obese, with seven states having rates over 35%”

[26] ||

1987 "And, yes, it does appear that in people with diabetes, weight loss may be more difficult than in people without diabetes, as was first suggested by Wing et al.17 in 1987"[27]
1987 “GM diet is known to have been formulated in General Motors Corp in 1987, to tackle weight and health issues faced by its employees”

[28] ||

1988 “Metabolic syndrome is a serious condition that can cause smoldering inflammation and lead to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.1,2 It was described by Reaven GM in 1988”[29]
1990 “In 1990, adults with obesity made up less than 15% of the U.S. population. By 2010, most states were reporting obesity in 25% or more of their populations. Today that has swelled to 40% of the adult population. For kids and teens, it’s 17%”[15] United States
1990 “In 2009, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) updated the international gestational weight gain (GWG) cut-off points published in 1990 [1] based on the prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) following the BMI classification of the World Health Organization (WHO)”[30]
1990–2001 “Despite the Surgeon General’s call to action to address the obesity epidemic in 2001,1 the prevalence of obesity in the United States surged dramatically from less than 15% in 1990 to 36% in 2010”[31]
1992 "According to the U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Americans spent an estimated $30 billion a year in 1992 on all types of diet programs and products, including diet foods and drinks"[32]
1994 "In 1994, Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which exempted dietary supplements (including those promoted for weight loss) from the requirement to demonstrate safety and efficacy."[33]
1996 "In 1996, 49 states and the District of Columbia participated in the BRFSS and asked all weight control questions (n=118,265)."[34]
1997–2013 “The age-standardised prevalence of weight loss attempts in the English population increased from 39% in 1997 to 47% in 2013. In 2013, 10% of those with BMI <22; 30% with BMI ⩾22 to <25; 53% with BMI ⩾25 to <30; and 76% with BMI ⩾30 were trying to lose weight”[35]
1998 “A multi-state survey3 in 1998 found that 7 percent of adults used OTC weight-loss supplements, with the greatest use noted among young obese women (28 percent). Retail sales of weight-loss supplements were estimated to be more than $1.3 billion in 2001.4 Metabolife 356, an ephedra-containing combination supplement, was the top-selling diet supplement with $70 million in sales, representing a 127 percent increase from sales in 2000.”[36]
2001 Research “A meta-analysis in 2001, revealed that using a very low energy diet (VLED) for weight loss or losing more than 20 kg are two predictors of weight maintenance,[9] however, one study that assessed the method of weight loss, declared that patients on VLED gain more weight after the end of the weight loss period, but a self-directed approach was more successful in this regard”[37]
2004 “Despite scientific interest and a proposal of the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2004 to create a set of strategies and goals to prevent obesity and chronic diseases 6, the prevalence of obesity is increasing around the world. Recent data shows that 50% of the Brazilian adult population is overweight and 15% is obese 7. International projections indicate that by 2015, approximately 700 million people aged 15 years and over will be obese”

[38] ||

2004 “The FDA banned ephedra from the market in 2004, but the banning was reversed a short time later due to a ruling of a Utah judge These diet pills contains ephedra extracts which have been proven to bring amazing weight loss”[5]
2007–2008 ""In China, among 46,239 adults surveyed in 2007 to 2008, the prevalence of overweight or obese was 36.67% and 29.77% in men and women, respectively, which doubled compared with the rate in 2002" [22] "
2008 "In 2008, costs to treat obesity totaled $147 billion in the US [8]."[39]
2009 “In 2009, the market for weight loss products and services was worth nearly $121 billion. BCC anticipates this market will expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.2% during the forecast period, resulting in a projected market size of more than $134 billion in 2014”[40]
2009 “Since 2009, pregestational weight and height as well as weight at delivery were added to the recorded items. Hence, in 2009 the prevalence of women with overweight and obesity was 21.2 and 10%, respectively [2]”[41]
2009 “In 2009, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) updated the international gestational weight gain (GWG) cut-off points published in 1990 [1] based on the prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) following the BMI classification of the World Health Organization (WHO)”[30]
2009–2010 "According to the 2009-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 78 million (35.7%) US adults and 12.5 million (16.9%) US children and adolescents were obese"[39]
2010 “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published a safety review of orlistat in 2010 because of rare reports of serious liver injury in people using it. The FDA found no evidence to confirm that orlistat was the cause of the reported liver injuries”[42]
2011–2012 “Few studies have reported on the evolution of maternal obesity and its consequences in recent years [9]. In the USA, 31.8% of women aged 20–39 years were obese in 2011–2012 [10]. Rates of overall obesity, in particular class III obesity, have increased significantly between 2005 and 2014”

[41] ||

2012 “A 10-year observational study of self-reported weight loss and behavior change in 2886 participants (78% female; mean age 48 years) in the NWCR who at entry had lost at least 30 lbs (13.6 kg) and kept it off for at least one year. Data were collected in 1993–2010; analysis was conducted in 2012”[43]
2013–2016 “In 2013–2016, 49.1% of U.S. adults tried to lose weight in the last 12 months”[44]
2014 “Foods and beverages are the largest category in the ingested goods market. This segment was valued at nearly $79 billion in 2009. Food movements, growing sub-segments, and healthy eating trends should drive growth in this sector at a 2% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach more than $86 billion by 2014”[40]
2014 “Empagliflozin was approved in 2014 by the FDA and EMA to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes, and beneficial effects on HbA1c and weight have been observed with empagliflozin as monotherapy or combination therapy (55)”[45]
2015 “With no oversight on claims of efficacy and restricted oversight on safety, the supplement industry grew explosively from sales of $17 billion in 2000 to approximately $34 billion in 2015. The Wild West was now here to stay”[18]
2015 “In 2015, it was estimated that weight loss programs, products, and other therapies generated more than $150 billion in profits in the United States and Europe combined (7Trusted Source)”[46]
2015 Study “Overweight and obese women who replaced diet beverages with water after their main meal showed greater weight reduction during a weight-loss program in a 2015 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”[47]
2015–2016 Statistics “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 93.3 million adults in the United States had obesity in 2015–2016. This number is equivalent to 39.8 percent of the population”[48] United States
2015–2016 "The proportion of people who've tried to lose weight during the previous year increased to 42% in 2015-2016, up from 34% in 1999-2000, according to federal survey data"[49]
2016 “Yet the study findings appear to fall in line with separate research -- including one study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2016, that linked increased light exposure at night with a 10% increase in body mass index over a 10-year period in older adults”[50]
2018 “Obesity is the accumulation of fat in adipose tissues in an abnormal or excessive manner leading to health impairment [6]. As reported in WHO global estimates for 2018, more than 1.9 billion adults (39%) were considered overweight at the age of 18 years or older in 2017 [7]. It is predicted that the percentage will increase to 60% by 2020 [8]”[51]
2018 “In 2018, 49% of American adults reported that they would like to lose weight. This same study found that the higher a person’s starting weight, the more likely they are to want to lose weight”[52]
2018 “The total U.S. weight loss market grew at an estimated 4.1% in 2018, from $69.8 billion to $72.7 billion. The total market is forecast to grow 2.6% annually through 2023”[53]
2019 “Swedish researchers reported in 2019 that 70-year-olds who did regular resistance training for 10 weeks not only increased lean muscle tissue but also lost body fat”[54]
2020 “This new report presents a wrap-up of 2019 performance for the U.S. weight loss market, and a forecast for 2020 in view of the COVID-19 pandemic. The value of the total market is projected to decline by 9% to $71 billion this year as a result of temporary closures of weight loss centers and medical programs in March-May”

[55] ||

2023 “The total U.S. weight loss market grew at an estimated 4.1% in 2018, from $69.8 billion to $72.7 billion. The total market is forecast to grow 2.6% annually through 2023”[53]

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References

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