Letter on Corpulence, Addressed to the Public

By William Banting

Summary: William Banting was an overweight British undertaker who by the mid-1800s had tried all the popular prescriptions for weight loss of his day, without success. Then his physician recommended he try abstaining from starches and sweets (i.e., processed carbohydrates). When Banting promptly dropped thirty-five pounds in a few months, he was inspired to inform the public of his success in the form of this pamphlet. Banting’s publication sparked a rage of successful low-carb dieting across Europe and America that would span the next century. Unbeknownst to most modern nutritionists and weight loss “experts,” low-carb dieting in the Banting mode was commonly recommended in early-twentieth-century textbooks on medicine, obesity, and endocrinology. It wasn’t until the 1960s, with the emergence of the notion that eating saturated fat leads to heart disease—a hypothesis that remains unproven to this day—that low-carb diets fell out of favor. Here the author presents and comments on the fourth edition of his famous letter, by which time he had heard from countless readers confirming the effectiveness of his diet. Harrison Publishing, London, 1869.

Dr. Wiley’s Question Box: Starches and Sugar Are the Principal Sources of Body Fat

By Harvey W. Wiley, MD

Summary: In 1912 Dr. Harvey Wiley left his post as head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Chemistry (the forerunner of the federal Food and Drug Administration) because of the collusion he witnessed between food manufacturers and agents within the federal government. Unable to effectively enforce the country’s first food purity law (passed in 1906), he left the government and joined the private Good Housekeeping Institute in Washington, D.C. There Dr. Wiley helped develop the famous Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval while also writing for the institute’s magazine. In “Dr. Wiley’s Question Box,” he would answer specific questions from readers about food safety and nutrition. In the excerpt here, Dr. Wiley explains a fact that metabologists have known for nearly a century but which conventional nutritionists and doctors have failed to comprehend from then until now: the principal source of fat stored in the body is not dietary fat but sugars and starches (i.e., carbohydrates). While nutrition schools today continue to teach the erroneous notion that glucose from carbohydrates is “the preferred fuel of the body,” Dr. Wiley points out what people who study metabolism for a living all know: up to 80 percent of the carbohydrates a person eats are converted to fat by the liver and stored in the body’s fat tissue. Fat tissue, in turn, releases fatty acids, which form the majority of fuel calories used by the body’s cells. Dr. Wiley also addresses other queries from readers, including the age-old question of whether overeating “acid-producing” foods is harmful and whether eating sand is good for the digestive system. From Good Housekeeping, 1926.

Overweight and Underweight as Manifestations of Idioblaptic Allergy

By Arthur F. Coca, MD

Summary: The Journal of Immunology was launched in 1916 and has been a leading publication in its field ever since. If you look up information about the journal’s founder, Dr. Arthur Coca, you will discover some impressive things. After receiving his MD at the University of Pennsylvania and working at the Cancer Institute of Heidelberg, Germany, Dr. Coca joined Cornell University Medical College as an instructor in pathology and bacteriology before becoming a professor of medicine at Columbia’s medical school and, finally, serving as honorary president of the American Association of Immunologists until his death in 1959. What you won’t find in a typical biography of Dr. Coca is mention of the Coca Pulse Test, a simple self-health tool the physician developed to detect “nonreaginic” food allergies, that is, food allergies that are not rooted in an antigen-antibody reaction. Because modern medicine refuses to acknowledge the existence of nonreaginic food allergies, it must ignore the greatest finding of one of its most renowned immunologists. Fortunately, in the following article, you can hear all about such food allergies—as well as how to use the pulse test to determine them—straight from Dr. Coca’s mouth. Moreover, you will discover the same surprise he did in treating his patients: If pulse-accelerating foods are removed from the diet, the body often moves naturally to its normal weight, requiring no caloric or other restriction other than avoiding the allergenic foods. Careful study of the information presented here may well save you, a loved one, or a client, if you are a health practitioner, from years of misdiagnosis and misery. From the Journal of Applied Nutrition, 1954. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 100.

Obesity and the Physiology of Osmotic Transfers

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: “Most overweight people have an obviously disordered endocrine balance,” writes Dr. Lee in this speculative paper on the nature of weight gain and loss. While historically the thyroid has always been considered the main dysfunctional endocrine gland when it comes to obesity, Dr. Lee points to another player, one “higher up the chain” of the endocrine system—the pituitary gland. With some modern researchers claiming the cause of obesity to be resistance of the pituitary to the hormone leptin, Dr. Lee appears to have been on the right track—once again years ahead of his time. 1954.