Did The Weight Loss Fads of the 1960’s & 1970’s Work? FAT Chance!

Culture | September 25, 2017

It’s no secret that among other things, Americans have been obsessed with weight loss for a long time. Ideally, the motivation for most of us is that we want to stay fit and healthy. We can’t overlook the fact, however, that we are a very vane society and really want to look good too! There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to look good. In fact, when you look good, you feel good.  

Bear with me for a brief history lesson… Early on, in times of Noblemen, being overweight was thought to be a status symbol. If you were overweight, it was a sign that you were wealthy and could afford to be overindulgent. The first documented “restrictive” diet was the brain child of England’s King William, I; also known as William the Conqueror, who ruled between the years of 1066 - 1087. At one point, he was so heavy that he could not even get on his horse, which impeded his ability to display his majesty, not to mention that it was his main means of transportation. In an effort to lose weight, he decided to put himself on a vigilant, all liquid diet. All liquid, meaning all liquor! He attempted to exist on only liquor for nearly a year. Surprisingly, it appeared to help him drop some weight but was not ultimately the answer to his weight problem. When King William, I, passed away, his body needed to be “stuffed” into the coffin because it was so large. Obviously, the first documented diet failed! Sound familiar?

Over the years, weight loss fads have come and gone. A lot of research has been dedicated to finding new breakthroughs for people who are desperate to drop the pounds. Philosophies vary depending on who you talk to. However, whenever some new concept comes along, we are all too eager to jump in and give it a try! After all, all we have to lose is weight, right? 

During the 1960’s & 1970’s, weight loss fads looked like anything and everything, not unlike now! We employed special machines and clothing designed to help shed pounds with little or no effort. It was thought to be a dream come true when that iconic Vita Master Belt Machine was invented in 1966. All you had to do was wrestle your fat parts into that contraption and jiggle the pounds away! Let’s not forget the Trim-Twist which promised to give us a figure to be envied in 30 days or less! Another option was the wooden roller machines that would break down those ugly fat cells and leave us slim and sexy! Another brilliant idea we bought into, hook, line & sinker, was the Sauna Suit. It looked like something from future that we might see on Mars. All you had to do was wear it as you went about your daily chores and you were guaranteed to see results. Ironically, it came in, one size fits all!

Upon realizing that weight loss was not going to happen without some hard work, other strategies were explored. Overeaters Anonymous, a 10-step program, and Weight Watchers were among the first organizations that encouraged supporting each other in our efforts. We even danced to the oldies with Richard Simmons!

Fad diets included The Drinking Man’s Diet, The Hollywood Diet, The Grapefruit Diet, Dr. Stillman’s 14-Day Diet, The Scarsdale Diet, The Sexy Pineapple Diet, The Cookie Diet, The Mazola Diet and The Last Chance Diet, which by the way, was far from the last fad diet! In an effort to make all this dieting easier, we were also offered diet pills! Diet, meal replacement drinks like Quota, Bal-Cal, Sego and Slender started popping up and flying off the shelves; not to mention diet snack bars, Slim Mint Gum and diet sodas with artificial sweeteners. Remember Tab?  

Reflecting on the fads we put our hard-earned money and trust into during the 1960’s & 1970’s, it strikes me as comical that as an intelligent society, and after all these years, we are still looking for ways to cheat our way to weight loss and use clean eating and exercise as a last resort!

Tags: A Brief History Of... | Health In The 1960s | Health In The 1970s

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Rebeka Knott


Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.