Weight Loss, Health Foods, and Fads
Dieting is a relatively new phenomenon. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a few extra pounds were seen as a sign of health and prosperity, especially for women. Putting on weight was the major theme of most diet and nutrition books written for women and children during this period.
Around the turn of the last century, societal ideals shifted. By the 1890s, thousands of American women began dieting in order to emulate the Gibson Girl, tall and slim with an impossibly narrow corseted waist. As the 1920s began, the Flapper silhouette popularized an even longer, leaner body type, and dieting became rampant, especially among teenaged girls. The American preoccupation with weight loss had begun.