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The Great Malnutrition Scare vs the Obesity Epidemic

This is Wilbur Olin Atwater. He was a pioneer in human nutrition, back in the day. He was also one of the major causes of the Great Malnutrition Scare of 1907-21.

You see, Atwater was one of the first people to try to figure out how much of what nutrients people need to function. And like many who are among the first to quantify something… he got a lot of stuff wrong. The amount of protein he decided the average person needs is today known to lead to kidney failure, just as a f”rinstance.

And between his miscalculations, misinterpretation of both his data and poorly gathered information, racially skewed height and weight charts, along with a great big ol’ dollop of cultural aesthetic preferences and prejudice over evidence, the Great Malnutrition Scare of 1907 – 21 began.


No Fat People in the Past? Not So Much

People talk a lot about how there weren’t any fat people once upon a time. That’s why our bodies are wrong and bad and must be changed. Just go on Jennie Craig! Try Weight Watchers! After all, that’s not even a diet. It’s a Lifestyle Change. There weren’t fat people back in the wifty-wafty past that I just made up!

The thing is, that’s it’s not exactly accurate. There have always been thin people, moderate-sized people, fat people, and supersized people. We have always been around.

Want some proof? Take a look right here:

via See these four lovely ladies circa 1905? Notice the one in the rear on the left? Not precisely Kate Moss, is she? And yet, she exists.