Losing weight is easier said than done, which is funny because at the same time, it’s the easiest thing to do. You just eat healthy and stay active and you’re set for life, (unless you have an underlying condition that forbids you from losing the extra pounds)
But a lot of people crave food that doesn’t necessarily help their cause when they’re trying to lose weight. And this isn’t exactly a problem that only recently popped up. People have been looking for ways to lose weight throughout history, and if you thought that today’s methods are bordering on the edge of extreme, wait until you read about the unsettling ways people tried to lose a few pounds in the past. In most cases, the side effects were painful, and in others, it was fatal.
When you ingest a tapeworm, your body won’t get the necessary nutrients, and you won’t gain weight.
It’s rumored that in Victorian times, people ate tapeworm eggs for weight loss. Once the parasites grew to adulthood, these folks would notice a dramatic drop in weight. But eventually, a doctor would have to ram a metal instrument down their throat to get the darn thing out. Patients also developed dementia, epilepsy, and abdominal distress.
Folks in the Victorian age did whatever it took to lose weight, even if it meant poisoning themselves.
In the 19th century, arsenic was used to beat the battle of the bulge. In fact, a lot of medicines included arsenic. The chemical’s ability to allegedly speed up the metabolism to help burn off calories was advertised, but no one mentioned that arsenic was a poison with deadly consequences.
A special enema designed for weight loss was invented by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg—sound familiar?
He’s the founder of cereal brands like Froot Loops and Frosted Flakes. Dr. Kellogg also ran a sanitarium and treated people with water therapy. But he always wanted his patients to have healthy guts, so he inserted yogurt enemas to perform a colon cleansing.
You didn’t have to be Froot Loop cray-cray to get inside John Harvey Kellogg’s sanitarium either.
During the early 1900s, you could visit him to go on a strict regimen intended to improve your overall well-being, and that included a monitored diet and…electrocution! (Ouch!) But the yogurt enema’s purpose was supposed to stimulate the development of flora inside his patient’s guts.
Ancient Hindus believed that living on air and sunlight was the best diet to shed a few pounds.
Breatharianism comes from Buddhist and Hindu beliefs that people can survive by getting everything they need from air and sunlight instead of food. But by not taking in nutrients, people risked damaging their metabolism and becoming dehydrated. People ultimately lost their lives by embracing this lifestyle.
Horace Fletcher believed that the best way to lose weight was to chew food 32 times.
In the early 1900s, Fletcher was known as “The Great Masticator,” because he believed that if you chew your food instead of eating, you can enjoy the taste, and spit it out without gaining any weight. But obviously, this was just as bad as starving because the body wouldn’t get the proper nutrients.
Lucky Strike and other cigarette companies claimed that smoking would lead to weight loss.
In the 1920s, these companies used this trick to get more women to start buying their products. The truth was that smoking was able to curb the appetite, but it also came with an increased risk of developing cancer, and those who tried to stop smoking noticed an increase in their weight.
The healthiest suggestion on this list was probably the belief that music was the key to a better health.
Wallace M. Rogerson, a medical expert from the 1920s, believed that in order to lose weight, you had to turn on the radio and dance the night and day away. Since dancing got people to move their bodies, it also allowed them to burn some serious calories too.
In the 1920s, women were told that losing weight was as easy as taking a nice, relaxing bath.
La-Mar Reducing Soap claimed that it could do away with fat in areas like the ankles and under the chin. The outrageous claims were supported by a chemist who had no business talking about weight loss. Eventually, other brands started showing up in markets, but the only thing these soaps did was clean.
In the 1950s, women went to reducing salons full of creepy-looking machines to shed some pounds.
Instead of going to a beauty salon to get their nails done, women could get on machines that would stretch them, roll them over, and in some cases, electrocute them in order to do away with lumps of fat and an overall shape that they were trying to change.
Men and women across the United States were relying on vibration belts to burn excess fat.
The machine was invented in the late 1800s, but they didn’t become a hit until the 1950s. Essentially, you wrapped the belt around the part you wanted to get slimmer. Then you’d turn the machine on and you’d jiggle the fat away. Sadly, the results left users feeling underwhelmed.
Sauna Pants were the latest rage for people dieting back in the 1970s, but they weren’t very stylish.
Sauna suits were worn during a workout so that the person’s body would sweat more. The only thing this did was to dehydrate the person wearing it. The makers of the garment even claimed that you could just wear it if you wanted to lose nine inches off of your tummy.