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By Sandy Long

Starting back in the mid 1800’s, dieting, as we now know it started. From Diet “Historians trace the origins of a modern conception of dieting to two 19th century figures: Rev. Sylvester Graham (1795-1851), a New Jersey preacher, and William Banting (1797 - 1878), a London undertaker. You may never have heard of Rev. Graham, but chances are that you'll be familiar with his dieting invention: the Graham cracker. Perhaps the first diet food, the Graham cracker was made from flour that was unsifted and didn't have additives (re-


fined white bread was becoming popular with the middle-classes during the 19th century, who could afford to buy it). Graham saw white bread as nutritionally poor, and he and his followers, the Grahamites, eschewed it - again, we can see the roots of modern diet advice back in the 19th century. Graham believed in a strict vegetarian and teetotal diet, and saw diet primarily as a means to control sexual urges. William Banting, by contrast, was interested in diet for the same reason as most dieters today are: he wanted to lose weight. In 1863, he wrote a pamphlet, Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public. His diet plan, based on advice given to him by a doctor, featured: Four meals a day, consisting of protein, greens, fruits, and dry wine. Avoiding starch and sugars. Milk, butter and meat were all permitted.”

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Since then the diet industry has grown into a multi-billion dollar business. Reports abound about the so-called USA’s obesity epidemic, one can follow the money trail. From News Medical .com: “ Xavier Pi-Sunyer, who has also received significant funding from the makers of anti-obesity drugs and is currently promoting anti-obesity drug Acomplia made by Sanofi, chaired a key National Institutes of Health obesity panel, which in 1998 instantly cast 30 million Americans into the "overweight" category by changing the government's definition. That group includes presently "overweight" stars like Will Smith, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, and even (former)President Bush.” It has become common for obese people to be stereotyped as lazy, lacking will, unhealthy and other slurs to their character. In reality, there are many causes for obesity from genetic/heredity to other medical conditions such as stress and depression. From “There does appear to be at least an association between heredity and obesity. In a well-known study regarding this issue, adults who were adopted as children were found to have body weights closer to those of their biological parents than their adoptive parents, suggesting that their genetic makeup had more influence on their body weight (and the incidence of obesity) compared to the environment in their adoptive family's home. A person's risk of developing morbid obesity is often heavily influenced by psychological factors. Boredom, depression, anxiety, stress, trauma (whether as an adult or child), and feelings of low self-esteem are examples of psychological factors that could result in an individual's overeating and under-exercising.


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