Roy Strong: A historian puts three diets from the past on trial

Historians in the News

[Sir Roy Colin Strong (born August 23, 1935) is an English art and cultural historian, writer, broadcaster and landscape designer.]

There's nothing new about diets. In a unique experiment a historian put three of them - from very different eras - to the test. So which one worked the best?
Hands up those of you who have never attempted to lose weight? Practically no one, I guess, in this era of universal flab-panic.

I took myself in hand at the close of the Seventies, when I was director of the V&A museum and growing so large my trousers were starting to pinch.

Within a few months I had shed a stone by eating less, taking up jogging and joining the gym.

Indeed, the weight loss was so marked that my trousers began to drop off me, and I had to have them taken in by a friendly tailor I knew in the costume department at the Royal Opera House.

Ever since then I've kept a close watch on what I eat, with the result that, although I'm in my 73rd year, a doctor has just told me my metabolic age is only 57 - a full 16 years younger than my age.

I discovered that only when I began making a TV series on the history of dieting.

It is part social history, part reality show, with nine flab-laden members of the public volunteering to enter a fictional "Institute of Physical Culture" where, for 24 days, they are subjected to three of the most extreme diets from history.

My role was to act as the head of the institute, dressed in a frock coat and top hat to preside over the whole process like some Victorian version of Gillian McKeith.

Together with the other "staff" - who were all experts in different aspects of health and wellbeing - I had to enforce the correct food intake and the appropriate exercise programmes from three eras: Victorian, Edwardian and the roaring Twenties....
Read entire article at Daily Mail

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