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Weight Loss Diets

Weight loss diets started to become a national obsession in the mid-1960s. A rapid succession of weight loss products ensued, from various diet pills to diets such as Atkins to full-fledged diet programs such as Weight Watchers. Weight loss measures grew extreme by the 1970s with such high protein diets as Robert Linn's liquid diet and the Complete Scarsdale Diet. By the end of that decade there were more than a hundred different weight loss diet programs, mostly hosted by doctors. Today, there are literally thousands of differing weight loss programs.

The diet advocates have continuously claimed that by eating less, and less fatty or sugary foods, we can all be lean. Americans listened. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, total caloric intake, as well as total fat intake, steadily decreased from 1965 to 1990. During this period, obesity increased dramatically, Steven Blair, P.E.D., president of the Cooper Institute noted in a February 2002 Mayo Clinic Proceedings. "The prevalence of obesity," he concluded, "is unlikely to be due to increases in daily energy intake."

We're not the only nation to realize that weight gain can't be explained simply by how much people eat. Between 1980 and 1991, the number of heavyweights in England doubled, while Britons were eating 10 percent fewer calories, according to their government.

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