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Calories and Corsets : A History of Dieting Over Two Thousand Years by Louise Foxcroft

Calories and Corsets : A History of Dieting Over Two Thousand Years

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Sue Baker's view...

There is nothing new under the sun – especially on the subject of diets. The latest diet craze is just part of an endless recycling of past fads, the gizmos, machines, the pills – all make a regular appearance to fleece the desperate dieter. Louise Foxcroft turns up some fascinating facts in her look at dieting history and failure seems to be a continuing theme – and the opprobrium heaped on the head of the overweight. There are some extremely alarming treatments revealed but no sign of that notorious tapeworm pill of popular imagination. A salutary look at our obsession with weight taking us up to the present day with the growing understanding of cause and effect.

Who is Sue Baker


Calories and Corsets : A History of Dieting Over Two Thousand Years by Louise Foxcroft

This is an enlightening and entertaining social history of how we have tried (and failed) to battle the bulge over two millennia. Today we are urged from all sides to slim down and shape up, to shed a few pounds or lose life-threatening stones. The media's relentless obsession with size may be perceived as a twenty-first-century phenomenon, but as award-winning historian Louise Foxcroft shows, we have been struggling with what to eat, when and how much, ever since the Greeks and the Romans first pinched an inch. Meticulously researched, surprising and sometimes shocking, Calories and Corsets tells the epic story of our complicated relationship with food, the fashions and fads of body shape, and how cultural beliefs and social norms have changed over time. Combining research from medical journals, letters, articles and the dieting bestsellers we continue to devour (including one by an octogenarian Italian in the sixteenth century), Foxcroft reveals the extreme and often absurd lengths people will go to in order to achieve the perfect body, from eating carbolic soap to deliberately swallowing tapeworm. This unique and witty history exposes the myths and anxieties that drive today's multi-billion pound dieting industry - and offers a welcome perspective on how we can be healthy and happy in our bodies.


Praise for Hot Flushes, Cold Science:

'Not many Cambridge academics can make you laugh aloud and gasp with shock. Louise Foxcroft does both in a rampaging history of the relationship between doctors and the menopause through three centuries' Libby Purves, Mail on Sunday

'Read this book' India Knight, Evening Standard

About the Author

Louise Foxcroft

Louise Foxcroft has a PhD in the history of medicine from the University of Cambridge. Her most recent book, Hot Flushes, Cold Science was the winner of the Longman-History Today Prize, 2009. She writes for the Guardian and the London Review of Books and is a Non-Alcoholic Trustee on the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, working on AA literature and archive materials. She writes for the Guardian and the London Review of Books.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd January 2013


Louise Foxcroft

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Profile Books Ltd


268 pages


Lifestyle & Health
eBook Favourites

Social & cultural history
Food & society



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