Obesity and weight loss treatments have existed long before the creation of the first Mc Donald’s restaurant. In fact, last weekwe briefly touched on how obesity was diagnosed and treated in Ancient Greek civilization and some of the earliest fad diets in the late 1700’s that was created for the sole purpose of weight loss treatment. This week, we are going to continue down the timeline of weight loss treatments and examine if they would be considered effective today.
Swallowing Parasites to Lose Weight
A weight loss treatment existed as far back as the Victorian Era that was guaranteed to get people who undergone it to lose weight. However, the treatment today is still illegal in the United States today, and for good reason.
All the obese person had to do was swallow a tapeworm cyst and let the parasite do its work once it hatches. The parasite hatches from the swallowed egg, then attaches to the intestine of the host to feed, since it does not have its own digestive tract. When the patient reached their desired weight, they would remove the tapeworm through various methods of luring it out from either the anal cavity or the mouth, at least, before the invention of anti-parasitic medication.
The idea sounds too good to be true. And yes, unlike other weight loss treatments at the time like weight loss soap and corsets, the people who participated in the diet did lose weight while they were host to the parasite. However, over the years the effects of this weight loss treatment have not only been proven to be temporary, but have also been proven to be dangerous and possibly deadly.
At best, you would gain all your weight back after you expelled the tapeworm because you never took the time to change your eating habits. At worst, they could also use your intestines as a breeding ground for more tapeworms, making it harder for you to remove the infection completely. The cysts could travel to your eyes, brain, and spinal cords, causing an insane amount of damage that ranges from blurred vision to seizures and death by brain swelling.
This weight loss treatment is not a good option for anyone, obese or not, and if you are seriously considering repeating something like this, then you are putting your life and health in jeopardy.
Not Swallowing at All
It wasn’t Europe that had its crazy obesity treatments and weight loss treatment techniques during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Horace Fletcher, an American health enthusiast and doctor earned the nickname “The Great Masticator” because of his obsession with chewing.
This man believed that chewing everything, including liquids was the key to weight loss treatment good nutrition, and better dental health. He coined this weight loss treatment technique “Fletcherism” and claimed that his technique would “turn a pitiable glutton into an intelligent epicurean.”
His diet consisted of chewing food as many times as possible until the best parts of it became liquified and swallowable, then, you would spit out the remainder of anything that was fibrous or chewy. Other instructions for weight loss treatment included not eating until you felt good and hungry, not eating when you are in any sort of emotional distress, defecating only once every two weeks and for it not to have any sort of unpleasant odor or texture.
The popularity of this fad diet skyrocketed, with essays testifying how Fletcherism helped their digestion, to various celebrities of the time willing to give it a try such as the Rockefellers, Franz Kafka and Henry James. Fletcher passed away at 69 due to bronchitis after a long and successful life and several published books about the subject matter.
The diet isn’t taken as seriously today as it was when it made headlines, and as a fad, it fazed out in favor of counting calories at around the time of his death. It is important that we swallow our food because we need things like fiber and other important nutrients to simply survive.
Though, he did introduce the idea that if you don’t chew your food enough, your body would not be able to properly digest it. But there is little empirical evidence to suggest that this practice is the best weight loss treatment.