Category: Nutrition

Weight Loss in 1920s America: The Reducing Craze

In the 1920s a new fitness craze hit white America called reducing. As the name suggests, reducing had everything to do with losing weight but very little to do with exercise and correct nutrition.

This was no ordinary weight loss craze. It was an all encompassing movement involving popular media, emerging business markets and a growing white consciousness about the importance of health. So popular had reducing become that by 1925, a contemporary US journalist remarked

“Reducing has become a national pastime, a craze, a national fanaticism, a frenzy.”

Hillel Schwartz would later characterize this craze as less than ideal “the “Roaring Twenties were also the calculating, calorie controlled, ounce-conscious Grim twenties.”

So how did reducing sweep the US nation?

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Creatine: A Short History

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Since the early 1990s, the Western World has been infatuated with a wonder supplement that increases athletic performance, helps build muscle and has relatively few side affects. Creatine is perhaps one of the best known supplements available on the market. It has been praised and castigated  for its effectiveness and oftentimes has been mistakenly deemed as a dangerous substance.

So what is creatine and where did it come from?

Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s All Meat Diet Part Two

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Last week we had the first of Vihjalmur Stefansson’s amazing account of his all meat diet. This week we look at the second installment.

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Now that the experiments in diet which Karsen Anderson and I undertook at Bellevue Hospital have been accepted by the medical world, it is difficult to realize that there could have been such a storm of excitement about the announcement of the plan, such a violent clash of opinions, such near unanimity to the prediction of dire results.

Vilhjalmur Stefansson’s All Meat Diet Part One

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Vilhjamur Stefannsson was a man of note for several reasons. Born in Canada in the late 1800s, the would be explorer discovered new lands and continental shelves, all the while publishing a host of books, articles and journals. Between 1906 and 1918, he went on three expeditions into Canadian and Alaskan Arctic, with the duration of each trip varying from sixteen months to five years. During these years he observed the dietary habits of the local Inuits, whose primary food source was meat. 

In 1935 Stefannsson published his experiences in Harper’s Monthly over two articles detailing the all meat diet he encountered. Below is Stefannsson’s first article.

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In 1906 I went to the Arctic with the food tastes and beliefs of the average American. By 1918, after eleven years as an Eskimo among Eskimos, I had learned things which caused me to shed most of those beliefs. Ten years later I began to realize that what I had learned was going to influence materially the sciences of medicine and dietetics. However, what finally impressed the scientists and converted many during the last two or three years, was a series of confirmatory experiments upon myself and a colleague performed at Bellevue Hospital, New York City, under the supervision of a committee representing several universities and other organizations.