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Swamps, sleep, tapeworms, rubber pants and vinegar have all been tried to fight the flab. Did they work? Sometimes. Were the side-effects worth it? Absolutely not. Here is the low down on the most ridiculous ways people have attempted to slim over the years.
#1 William the Conqueror tried an alcohol-only diet after getting too heavy to ride his horse. Unsurprisingly it proved ineffective.
#2 Lord Byron used a Vinegar Diet to maintain his poetically wasted look. It worked, with nasty side effects that included vomiting and diarrhea.
#3 The Victorians used arsenic to speed up their metabolisms – it was effective as long as you remained alive, but a noted side effect was an agonizing death by arsenic poisoning.
#4 Elvis Presley opted for the Sleeping Beauty Diet which fed you sedatives to put you to sleep so that you literally ate nothing and woke up slimmer.
#5 Ancient Greek Olympians followed a strict meat-only diet to prepare for their competitions and get an edge in the arena.
#6 Amphetamines have often been used to speed the metabolism but the addiction they cause far outweighs any weight loss benefit.
#7 Victorian undertaker William Banting published a best-selling low-carb diet. It was so popular and efficient that people would ask: “Do you bant?” or “I am Banting” to describe their eating habits.
#8 George Cheyne invented an 18th-century lettuce diet which involved no meat, only milk and vegetables. This was later followed in the 20thcentury by the Cabbage Soup Diet. Both delivered weight loss and an astonishing amount of gas.
#9 The 1930s saw a spate of claims that you could wash fat off with special soap brands such as “Fatoff” and “Fat-O-NO”.
#10 Fletcherism was also known as ‘chew and spit’. Followers chewed each mouthful 32-80 times before spitting out what was left. As a result, Fletcher was dubbed “The Great Masticator”.
#11 The Grapefruit Diet was simple, Grapefruit eaten for every meal. It was so popular in America that a 1929 popular song about it became a hit.
#12 Unbelievable as it seems now – cigarette brand Lucky Strike advertised cigarettes as a diet aid with the slogan “Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet”.
#13 The Birmingham Hospital Diet is a truly bizarre three-day crash diet that involves eating hotdogs and ice cream.
#14 The early 20th century saw a craze for wearing rubber knickers to produce sweating, leading to weight loss. With the outbreak of WW1 rubber was required for the war which ended the craze.
#15 In the 18th Century it was noted that obese people seemed to live near swamps and so those wishing to remain thin were advised to move away.
#16 The most ludicrous diet of all must be the Tapeworm Diet, where tapeworm cysts are swallowed to absorb food. This disgusting tactic may work, but the health risks and horrors are hard to imagine.