Category:
Dieting and Weight Loss

The Shipwreck Diet

Studies conducted by the U.S. Army in the late 1940s sought to determine the minimum amount of food a person would need to survive if they were shipwrecked on a desert island.

One of the oddities the researchers discovered was that if, for some reason, the shipwrecked person had to choose between steak and water, they should choose the water: "Protein has the effect of drying up the body. Therefore eating a steak on a desert island with little or no water available would probably be worse than eating nothing, depending upon how long rescue took."

"Shipwreck Diet: One of eleven Army volunteers who for six weeks will live on biscuits and water at the Metropolitan Hospital, New York City, to determine a human survival ration."
Newsweek - Mar 15, 1948




Waterloo Courier - Nov 16, 1949

Posted By: Alex - Mon Nov 16, 2020 - Comments (3)
Category: Food, Nutrition, Experiments, 1940s, Dieting and Weight Loss

Trim Reducing-Aid Cigarettes

The Cornell Drug Corporation came out with Trim Cigarettes in 1958, claiming that smoking three of them a day would reduce appetite and thereby help with weight loss:

Smoke a TRIM reducing aid cigarette and you'll be amazed to find yourself shaking your head as the food is passed around. There'll be no argument, you won't have to close your eyes and grit your teeth, you just won't want!

The FDA promptly banned them. More info: wikipedia



Miami News - May 16, 1958

Posted By: Alex - Sat Nov 14, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Smoking and Tobacco, 1950s, Dieting and Weight Loss

Roy Mack’s milk-diet tour

Roy Mack set off from New York on May 2, 1939, intending to walk to San Francisco. To make this more of a challenge, he decided to do this while living on a diet of only milk — about six quarts of it a day. He said he wanted to "prove you can live on milk." The media dubbed him the "human milk bottle."

By August he had reached Oklahoma City and had also lost 10 pounds in weight. He maintained this was due to all the exercise, not his milk diet.

I have no idea if he ever did reach San Francisco, because I can't find any news reports about him after Oklahoma City. Perhaps the milk diet got the better of him.

Pittsburgh Press - June 3, 1939

Posted By: Alex - Fri Oct 30, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Food, Publicity Stunts, Travel, 1930s, Dieting and Weight Loss

Bitten desserts in advertisements

Do consumers find images of desserts in advertisements more appealing if the desserts are whole, cut, or bitten?

The answer: it depends on whether or not the consumer is currently on a diet. That's according to research conducted by Donya Shabgard at the University of Manitoba for her 2017 master's thesis. From the thesis:

While participants without any dieting experience seemed to be unaffected by the bitten dessert, those with dieting experience who viewed the bitten dessert responded more favorably (higher purchase intentions, desirability evaluations, etc.) than those who viewed the cut and whole desserts. These findings were expected as research has shown that dieters differ from non dieters in their responses to food cues (Frank, Kim, Krzemien, & Van Vugt, 2010)...
These findings explain that the bitten dessert is percieved as more real and authentic in comparison to the cut and whole dessert, and, thus, these perceptions of realness resulted in its positive evaluations. After the bitten dessert, the cut dessert was perceived as being the next most real, with the whole dessert being viewed as the least real of the three.





via Really Magazine

Posted By: Alex - Tue Jun 02, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Food, Advertising, Psychology, Dieting and Weight Loss

Howard Obesity Ointment

The application is simplicity itself. You merely apply the ointment to the part you wish reduced, then literally, "wash the fat away" without injury to the most delicate skin.

I can't find any description of what was in this ointment, but it sounds like something out of a horror story.

Munsey's Magazine - vol 29, 1903

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 05, 2020 - Comments (4)
Category: Health, Advertising, 1900s, Dieting and Weight Loss

The Tummy Tutor

It also went by the name "Belly Beeper". The idea was that if you slouched or let your stomach out, it would start beeping. Supposedly this would train you to always keep your stomach muscles tensed and not slouch.

Either that or it would train you to avoid wearing it.

The Miami Herald - Oct 7, 1973

Posted By: Alex - Tue Apr 21, 2020 - Comments (2)
Category: Inventions, 1970s, Dieting and Weight Loss, Stomach

Slimming Insoles

Created by Dr. Robert Metz, Slimming Insoles were advertised as “the first and only massage insole in the world which reduces weight and regulates the digestion system.”

Here’s a link to the 1997 FTC complaint against Metz and his company. It noted that, “In truth and in fact, scientific studies do not demonstrate that Slimming Insoles cause significant weight loss without changes in diet or exercise."

And yet, Slimming Insoles are still being sold. I'm not sure if Dr. Metz himself is selling them. But you can buy some at Amazon, and they make specific claims about causing weight loss: "These slimming magnets emit magnetic waves which weaken fat cells in your body... Lose weight by walking with magnetic insoles."

St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Mar 3, 1996

Posted By: Alex - Wed Dec 04, 2019 - Comments (1)
Category: Shoes, 1990s, Dieting and Weight Loss

Anti-Eating Face Mask



Patent No. 4,344,424, granted to Lucy L. Barmby of Sacramento, California in 1982. From the patent description:

a primary object of this invention is to provide a new and novel device for preventing the consumption of food by an individual.

It goes into more detail about who the invention might benefit:

The temptation to eat which leads one to eat excessively is ever present and the ready availability of attractively prepared, taste-tempting foods makes the temptation to eat and therefore to over eat virtually irresistible. Frequently, this temptation is so great that compulsive eating is not uncommon and many persons are virtually without the strength of will to resist overeating. The average person, therefore, does have a problem as to the over consumption of food but, even worse, when certain individuals are exposed to food constantly such as chefs, cooks, restaurant personnel or the like, it is a foregone conclusion that these individuals will consume far more food than is proper particularly when such food is usually readily available at no cost. Typical of such groups of individuals is the housewife who must frequently cook meals during the day which generally includes the preparation of such fattening foods such as pies, pastries, and the like. During the preparation of such meals not only is there the temptation to nibble on the food being prepared but it is generally necessary that the food be tasted during preparation thereby constantly stimulating the appetite and promoting the consumption of large quantities of food.

I'm imagining a husband preparing to go to work and strapping the anti-eating face mask on his wife before he leaves.

But couldn't the wearer just lift the mask off? Nope. It's locked on, though "under emergency conditions, the strap may be cut and the face mask of the invention removed."

Edmonton Journal - Oct 8, 2006



The invention reminds me of the Scold's Bridle, aka 'muzzle for ladies,' that some women were forced to wear back in olden times.

Posted By: Alex - Wed Nov 20, 2019 - Comments (5)
Category: Inventions, Dieting and Weight Loss

Flexitarian Sausages

Last year, New Zealand sausage maker Beehive debuted a line of sausages that it claimed were 'flexitarian'. This term describes a diet that is semi-vegetarian. So, a plant-based diet that only occasionally includes meat.

What made Beehive's sausages flexitarian? According to the company, it was because they were only 80% meat, and contained 20% plant-based filler.

By that standard, you might qualify as flexitarian if you only eat 4/5 of a sausage, instead of the whole thing.

More info: Beehive on Facebook, newshub

Posted By: Alex - Mon Aug 05, 2019 - Comments (2)
Category: Food, Dieting and Weight Loss

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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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