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Prognosis

From the Greeks to Byron, Silly Diets Have Always Plagued Us

We keep recycling the same tired weight-loss regimens.

Prognosis Ep 2

Illustration by 731; Getty Images

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As far back as Renaissance Italy, early diet guru Luigi Cornaro was subsisting on bread and wine. But modern dieting was really forged in the 19th century, when even wackier weight-loss regimens began to emerge, from pills made of lard and arsenic to vigorous chewing and new foods like… the graham cracker? Lord Byron—an early diet influencer of the era—was a fan of weight-loss techniques including wearing a ton of clothes in order to sweat more and eating vinegary potatoes. The 5 foot, 8 inch-tall writer also weighed himself in public, on a London store’s coffee scales, once losing a whopping 54 pounds between two weigh-ins.