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Book Review: Calories and Corsets

posted Jun 23, 2014, 10:18 PM by Ben Jane   [ updated Jun 25, 2014, 8:44 AM ]

Calories and Corsets (2012) by Louise Foxcroft. Profile Books

At some point all health and fitness professionals will work with clients that are interested in losing weight or avoiding the ever-present threat of weight gain. From the origins of the first recorded diets in Greek and Roman times through to Banting, Frumusan, and Fishbein, Fletcher (the great masticator), Hay, and Atkins, this book gives a great account of the mixed bag of charlatans, gurus and weight loss doctors that form the DNA of the diet industry that we know today.


The virtues of low carb, high protein diets, pills, potions and additives are nothing new and the author tells how familiar themes of discipline, self-worth, blame and ignorance have all been used as both part of the "treatment" and the reasons why so many people have felt the need to follow a particular diet.

Many believe the generally accepted truism that fat people “just need to eat less" or simply need motivating and that they are probably lazy and/or undisciplined. This book goes some way to showing how these attitudes are ingrained in our psyche and goes a long way to helping the reader understand that there is very little new in the world of weight management and that just because the latest diet is the one that everyone is shouting about, it is no more likely to work than the last one.

It has been thoroughly researched and maintained my interest throughout. The chapters on the 1920s and 1950s were particularly interesting as the world of modern diet gurus and fads emerges and simultaneously creates and rides the waves of social change.

A thoroughly recommended read for anyone about to embark on a diet, but also health and fitness professionals that aspire to support clients in the pursuit of a healthy weight.

To see the BBC's Nick Higham interview the author click here