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Here Are The Most Unsettling Ways People Have Tried To Lose Weight Throughout History

Losing Weight

Losing weight isn’t easy, but the science behind it is simple. You eat right, you exercise, and you should start losing weight. Dieting doesn’t have to be torture, but it hasn’t always been that way. Here are the most unsettling ways people have tried to lose weight throughout history.


Back in the Victorian-era, dietitians claimed that tapeworms could help you lose weight. After eating an encapsulated beef tapeworm cyst, it would absorb the food that you eat, taking in all of the calories. The food that you eat would make the tapeworm big and strong, and you wouldn’t gain a pound. When you reach your goal weight, you would take an anti-parasite to kill the worm.


Dr. John Harvey Kellogg is the founder of the cereal company that brings you Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, and many others. He also worked in health science, and he operated a sanitarium. He specialized in a weight loss thick there are used special enemas. Also, he would give his patients yogurt enemas to clean out and replace the intestinal flora, which promotes a healthy gut. And he dabbled in hydro and electroshock therapy.


Arsenic poisoning can cause headaches, muscle cramps, convulsions, diarrhea, and death. During the Victorian-era, there were weight loss pills available that were said to be able to speed up your metabolism, helping you to lose weight. The pills contained arsenic, but it said to be so minuscule that it wouldn’t cause any harm. There were people who wanted super-fast metabolism and didn’t use the pills as directed. These people would take a handful of pills and injected too much arsenic, and died.

The Chew and Spit Method

Horace Fletcher earned the nickname, The Great Masticator because of his strange diet. He would eat his favorite foods, chew, and then spit the food out. Because he didn’t swallow, the pounds melted off. This diet fad became very popular in the early 1900s, and many people who used this diet method suffered from malnutrition and starvation.


When cigarettes came out during the Roaring Twenties, tobacco companies like Lucky Strike claimed that you could take a few puffs of their cigarettes and you would lose weight. While cigarettes do suppress your appetite, it wasn’t worth the risk of getting cancer.


In the 1920s, a medical expert named Wallace M. Rogerson claimed that by listening to a Wallace Reducing Record on a phonograph could help you lose weight. When asked how this music could help a person lose weight, the advertisers said, “The Wallace Method works with nature,” whatever that means.

Rubber Corsets

One trick to lose weight that people used to lose weight years ago was rubber corsets. They would wear the corset while they compressed the woman’s gut and crushed her rib cage. While the women wore the corsets, they would look thin. Because the skin couldn’t breathe while you were wearing the corset, it caused women to sweat, and they would lose water weight. Unfortunately, they would gain the weight right back.


Years and years ago, La-Mar Reducing Soap made a bold claim. Their advertisements read, “Wash away fat and years of age. Acts like magic to reduce double chins, abdomens, ungainly ankles, unbecoming wrists…or any superfluous fats.” The inventor was a chemist who knew nothing about weight loss. Shockingly, people actually bought the soap.

Reducing Salons

Women went to these salons and squeezed into machines with hoses, rolls, and air blasters that promised to help you lose weight. These salons claimed that the machines could dissolve fat by shocking it and shaking it into submission. Women believed that they would work, which was why they were so popular for so long.

Sauna Pants

Sauna pants were very popular in the 1970s, and they were a portable sauna that was worn as pants. These pants did help people lose a few pounds, but it was just water weight, that would be gained back very quickly. You also looked ridiculous in the pants.

Vibration Belts

Those wanted to lose a few pounds would stand on a platform in front of this machine, and put the belt around their target area. When the belt shook, fat was supposed to melt away. It is a pretty ridiculous concept, but these machines were once very popular. Many Weight Watchers locations had these machines will into the 70s.

Sunlight and Air Diets

This is known as the Breatharian diet, and it is still relatively popular today. These people believe that breathing in air and getting enough sunlight will give your body the nutrients that it needs. Another name for this crazy diet is starvation. Some even call it anorexia.

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