William Howard Taft, the United States' heaviest president, used a weight-loss program that researchers have found to be startlingly contemporary.
On the advice of his doctor, a famed weight-loss guru and author of popular diet books, he went on a low-fat, low-calorie diet. He avoided snacks. He kept a careful diary of what he ate and weighed himself daily. He hired a personal trainer and rode a horse for exercise. And he wrote his doctor, Nathaniel E. Yorke-Davies, with updates on his progress, often twice a week.
In a way, he was ahead of his time. Obesity became a medical issue by the middle of the 20th century, around the time the term “obesity” rather than “corpulence” came into vogue, said Abigail C. Saguy, a sociologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, who specializes in the study of obesity. Taft’s story shows that “at least in some cases, corpulence was already treated as a medical problem early in the century,” she added.
THE TAG LINE FOR THIS ARTICLE OBSERVES THAT TAFT'S DIET WAS "STARTLINGLY CONTEMPORARY". MY TAKE ON IT WOULD BE THE OPPOSITE! OUR CONTEMPORARY IDEAS ABOUT DIET ARE STARTLINGLY ANTIQUATED.
WE ARE TRYING TO APPLY TECHNIQUES THAT HAVE LONG BEEN WORN OUT AND INEFFECTIVE, YET WE KEEP PROCLAIMING THEM TO BE GOSPEL. IT'S TIME WE STARTED LOOKING IN OTHER PLACES FOR THE SOLUTIONS TO OBESITY. IN PARTICULAR, IT'S URGENT THAT WE STOP PUTTING THE BLAME ON THE OVERWEIGHT AND START SEARCHING FOR THE PHYSIOLOGIC TRIGGERS THAT NEED TO BE DISABLED. AT THE SAME TIME, WE MUST DIAL BACK THE OBESOGENIC ENVIRONMENT WE'VE CREATED, AS THIS IS CLEARLY ACCELERATING THE PROBLEM.