12 Horrifying Weight Loss Techniques People From History Actually Tried


Have you ever heard anyone say, “losing weight is super easy”? If your answer to that questions was yes, chances are you heard it on a late night infomercial, or possibly on one of those YouTube ads we all can’t wait to skip. Every year, there are tons of new diets, pills, programs, workouts and supplements that are developed to make losing weight super easy. Why? Probably because it’s a pain to go to the gym and eat healthily and it’s super profitable to be in the weight loss business.

The weight loss methods of today may seem crazy, but I promise you that just a few short decades ago, they were much more outlandish; I would even describe these methods as borderline insane or criminal. Regardless of how silly or scary these methods appeared one thing is for sure, people tried them out. Today, we take a look back at weight loss methods from days past. Get ready to be mortified and intrigued.


1. Tapeworms: Yes, people actually tried to swallow a harmful creature to eat up extra fat. Seems crazy now, but this was deemed “scientific” in the Victorian Era.

Kristin Adair / NPR

Can you imagine eating one of these nasty worms? I think I would throw up!


2. Enemas: You may be asking yourself, “don’t people still do this?” The answer is yes! These days, however, it’s not usually used for dropping pounds.

Twin Cities PBS

Interesting/strange fact about this method: Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (yes from the cereal) ran a sanitarium that treated patients with yogurt enemas.

3. Arsenic: Yes, this is one of the more dangerous of the pack. Worst case scenario on this one is… death! Best case? Cramps, diarrhea, and maybe a few pounds gone.


Advertisers claimed the pills would speed up metabolism, but the only thing they sped up was the time until your next hospital visit. No real pounds went from this one (while alive at least).


4. Chew-And-Spit Method: This one is ridiculous. Not too much to say here, except that for obvious reasons this is not a sustainable way to shed pounds (unless your weight loss goal is to starve). The mind guru pictured below is Horace Fletcher and he crafted this amazing diet.


What do you think?

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