Today, dieting is a multibillion dollar business and counting calories is an American pastime. Dieting is usually a practice that involves ingesting food in a regulated fashion to achieve or to maintain a goal weight, but it can also involve pills, procedures, and other lifestyle choices. Some people also diet in order to gain weight. For example, athletes often attempt to gain weight to bulk up or to move into a different weight class. In addition, individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa or starvation are usually given diets in order to regain optimal levels of body fat, muscle, and essential nutrients. Weight-loss diets restrict the intake of certain foods in order to reduce body weight. This is the most common form of dieting, and its popularity can be seen in the number of weight-loss books, programs, and structured diet clubs that are available. Dieting to lose weight did not become popular until the late 1800s. For the average American, neither excess of food nor a sedentary lifestyle was often perceived as a problem. It is generally assumed that, until recently, emphasis was placed on a person’s spiritual value rather than on aesthetics, so the need to be thin was not a dominant concern; however, there have been a number of contributing factors to this shift, including the ever-changing social and cultural perception of beauty and style.
Fashion Change And Body Type
The ideal woman of the 19th century invoked a maternal rather than sensual sense of self, and clothing tended to accentuate the fullness of her figure. Fashion trends, however, profoundly shaped what society viewed as the ideal womanly figure. For instance, the use of the corset to make one’s waist appear small while enhancing the bust and the hips was the norm throughout the Victorian era. With the rise of the fashion industry, women increasingly began to purchase readymade clothes. Instead of having clothes tailored to their body, they began to tailor their body to fit the clothes. In the 1920s, a more athletic and boyish ideal image of feminine style made popular the svelte figure of the flapper, as well as some first dieting books published in the teens. By the 1950s, quasi-Victorian hourglass figures were the ideal standards for Hollywood glamour girls, Barbie, and the girl next door. Since the 1960s, fashions that revealed more skin or body contour gave rise to waifs like Twiggy, a British model blamed (incorrectly) for originating the female obsession with thinness.
Counting Calories and Other Trends And Icons
When calories were discovered in the early 20th century, the war against fat became scientific. This helped to shape trends in fashion and the image of beauty, and produced a litany of weight-loss plans. Some diet programs have a greater effect on culture and eating habits than others. These diets usually focus on the scientific reasons for why losing weight is difficult. One of the most well-known diet groups is Weight Watchers, which provides participants with structured diet plans, as well as support from other dieters. Weight Watchers was created in the 1960s, and remains so popular today that many restaurants have specific Weight Watchers sections on their menus. In the program, calorie-counting is replaced with a system of points designed to make dieting easier. At each level of the plan, the participant is allowed a certain number of points per day to spend on whatever they choose. The philosophy behind Weight Watchers is giving people a support system in which they can cut calories by cutting down portion sizes. Weight Watchers removes the scientific element of weight loss by eliminating calorie counting, at least in name.
In the 1970s and ’80s, new icons became to shape the direction of the dieting industry. Richard Simmons, for example, emerged as a motivational and somewhat flamboyant fitness instructor. Simmons was dissatisfied with fad diets and dedicated himself to spreading a message of healthy eating and exercise to change people’s lives. His career spawned a successful fitness studio, a series of aerobics videos, countless television appearances and advertisements, and made him into a fitness icon. The Jenny Craig program was created in 1983 by Jenny Craig, and is a system that focuses on weight loss, weight management, and nutrition. The program combines nutrition, through meal plans and prepackaged foods, with fitness and counseling to help clients lose weight. The company has had numerous celebrity endorsements over the years, including Kirstie Alley, Valerie Bertinelli, and Queen Latifah.
During the early years of the 21st century, the oh-so-popular Atkins diet essentially began the low-carbohydrate craze that swept the United States. Dr. Robert Atkins’s first book was published in 1972, but it did not become popular until the early 2000s. After he died in 2003, it lost popularity, but the brand name is still used to sell low-carb products. The Atkins Nutritional Approach, the diet’s official title, centers on the science behind weight loss. It insists that one can lose weight not by eating less, but by eating the right foods to scientifically trick one’s body into burning fat. The Atkins diet claims that the main problem leading to obesity is the overconsumption of refined carbohydrates like sugar, flour, and high-fructose corn syrup. The diet also emphasizes the danger of transaturated fats. The Atkins diet therefore involves the restriction of carbohydrates in order to force the body to burn stored fat. The Atkins diet has become so popular that low-carb products are sold in grocery stores and some restaurant menus include low-carb sections.
Extreme Measures And Criticism
Counting calories and regulating food intake has not been the only means of dieting. In the late 19th and early 20th century, early diet pills were rumored to contain tapeworms that, once ingested, would assist the dieter in losing weight. By the 1950s, doctors were prescribing diet pills that contained amphetamines. Amphetamines were used during World War II to keep soldiers alert, but had the added benefit of appetite suppression. However, many patients developed substance abuse problems and doctors stopped prescribing the pills. Today, weight loss pills claim to increase metabolism or aid in appetite suppression through herbal supplementation like green tea and additives like ephedra. Some pills, like the drug Alli, are used to block the absorption of fat from foods, but must be taken in combination with a healthy diet. However, the greatest concerns come from the popularity of extreme diets and fasting.
Since the 1960s, feminist criticism of seemingly unhealthy, super-thin fashion models has urged women to ignore trends that called for an ideal body shape and size most women find unattainable. This argument continues into the present day with media attention focused on models like Kate Moss and celebrities like Lindsay Lohan who are deemed anorexic due to their small size and are criticized as poor role models for impressionable young women. A particular concern is that when dieting is taken to the extreme, eating disorders can develop.
Anorexia nervosa affects mostly girls and young women who feel pressure to conform to a certain body image presented by society. People with the disorder have an intense fear of gaining weight. Though the focus is on stress surrounding food intake, anorexia is also a way for people to feel more in control of life. There is no single cause of anorexia, but culture, family history, and stressful life changes can all play a role. Although less attention has been paid to men, similar trends have also shaped cultural ideas of male beauty. By the late 1970s, the athletic, muscular male body became the ideal and encouraged men to embrace a range of fitness programs and diet crazes that include dangerously unhealthy products and practices that have long been associated primarily with women and girls.