The Weight of History

A sensible serving of dieting highlights.

1963: Weight Watchers founded by a Queens woman whose friends helped her curb cookie cravings.

Martini Glass

1964: The Drinking Man’s Diet advocates martini lunches, sells 2.4 million copies in 13 languages.

1972: Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution is published.
The American Medical Association calls it a “serious threat to health.”

1977: Slim-Fast promotes its “shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, and a sensible dinner” mantra.

The Last Chance Diet recommends abstaining from all food except a protein drink of ground animal horns, hooves, hides, tendons, and bones. It sells 2.5 million copies.

Slim Fast

1980: Dr. Herman Tarnower, the creator of the wildly popular Scarsdale Diet, is murdered by his lover.

1981: Fruit-heavy Beverly Hills Diet craze attracts followers such as Jack Nicholson, Jodie Foster, Maria Shriver, and crooner Engelbert Humperdinck.

1988: A 145-lb Oprah displays 67 lbs of animal fat—equivalent to the weight she lost on a liquid protein diet.

1992: Oprah hits 237 lbs, hires fitness guru Bob Greene.
Oprah Winfrey
Dr. Atkins releases his New Diet Revolution, one of the top 50 best-selling books of all time.

1996: Fat substitute olestra hits the market amid reports of “anal leakage.”

2002: 280-lb Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is told he has 10 years to live. He loses 110 lbs, starts anti-obesity crusade.

2004: Bill Clinton says he lost 35 lbs with the South Beach Diet and “working out with a German man.”

2005: Atkins Nutritionals declares bankruptcy.

2007: US diet industry reaches $58 billion.

2004: Americans spend $46 billion on diet products.

2004: 13% of Americans try low-carb diets. Krispy Kreme blames its losses on Atkins. A Florida man sues Atkins for a blocked coronary artery.

Slim Shady

2008: Eminem, a.k.a. Slim Shady, turns down Slim-Fast’s offer to be its spokesman.