"History of the Corpulent"
For centuries some of the signs of affluence were signified by material items such as grand homes and fine jewelry. The differences in classes could be quickly ascertained by the clothes one wore. In addition to these material things, the rich had access to one other thing that the poor didn't: fine food, and lots of it. Perhaps this is how one's girth came to be associated with wealth and why so many were fat.
Early attempts centuries ago at regulating one's weight were meant to alleviate stomach disorders, which seemed to plague many people. However, evidence seems to indicate that this largely went unnoticed. From Luigi Coronaro to Benjamin Franklin, the virtues of a good diet could be seen extolled. Yet, Americans would become known for their eating habits, which were considered quite large by anyone's standards.
It wasn't until the 19th century that the health risks associated with obesity started to come to light and being overweight started to lose its favor.
Soon the Big Man Body many associated with wealth and power would come under fire and be ridiculed for its ungainliness. Associated with excess and greed in a time when reformers and moralists cried out against atavism of every kind, fat became a liability.
All types of attributes became associated with being overweight, which persists even till today. Disease and ill health were caused by obesity and in the 1930's new advances in medicine and pharmacology were applied to help rid one of the fat. The prevalent use of amphetamines, liquid diets, and group therapy forums were engaged in an effort to battle the bulge. Ultimately, the diet industry would become a multi-billion dollar industry.
Given today's burst of average weight gain, one would think that once again being...