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Obesity

Obesity, the term applied to the condition in which there is an undue accumulation of fat in the body. In some people there is a natural tendency, often hereditary, to corpulence, but in the majority of instances obesity is developed in persons of middle life who take little exercise and live well, and the condition is in them no doubt largely attributable to their habits. It is not usually recognised that with advancing years less food is required, and it often happens that those who lead the least energetic lives devote considerable attention to their diet. While, however, there can be no question that in the majority of cases corpulence is connected with over-indulgence in food, and is therefore most readily prevented by attention to this matter, in some instances anaemia is associated with the deposit of fat, and it occasionally happens that in the more extreme forms of obesity there are forms of degeneration, affecting mainly the circulatory organs, which render it unadvisable that any radical method of treatment should be adopted save under good advice. Many plans of diet have been recommended in the treatment of obesity. They all agree in a considerable limitation of the amount of starchy and saccharine food prescribed - dry toast, biscuits, or rusks being recommended in place of ordinary bread, milk and sugar being prohibited altogether, and vegetables strictly limited in amount. By some much importance is attached to the strict limitation of the quantity of liquid, particularly at meals; others recommend that plenty of tea, coffee, water, and the like should be consumed; but nearly all agree in the recognition of the advisability of taking but little alcohol. Most authorities recommend that meat should be taken in small quantities, and not more than once a day. While there are various views as to the quality of the food taken, there is a tolerably general consensus of opinion as to the quantity; and it is the height of folly for a patient to imagine that he can (by avoiding a few particular articles of diet) at one and the same time indulge largely in the pleasures of the table and grow thin. The famous formula of Mr. Banting, by means of which that gentleman was able to reduce his weight to the extent of nearly three stone, in the course of a year, has been adopted by many people since his time. He recommended: for breakfast, some 6 or 7 oz. of solid food (meat, or fish and toast), and 9 oz. of liquid (tea or coffee without milk or sugar); for dinner, 10 or 12 oz. of solid food, with 10 oz. of wine; for tea, 2 to 4 oz. of solid food (fruit and a rusk or two) with 9 oz. of tea; and for supper, 3 to 4 oz. of solid food, with 7 oz. of wine. This diet probably goes to an extreme in the exclusion of fat, and is somewhat liberal in the matter of alcohol. It suits some people, but it is advisable that a severe regimen should not be adopted save under medical advice.

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