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Calories and Corsets

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Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

Calories and Corsets

A history of dieting over two thousand years

Louise Foxcroft

An enlightening and entertaining social history of how we have tried (and failed) to battle the bulge over two millennia.

eBook (ePUB/MOBI)?
9781847654588 (5 Jan 2012)

About the book

Today we are urged from all sides to slim down and shape up, to shed a few pounds or lose life-threatening stones. The media's relentless obsession with size may be perceived as a twenty-first-century phenomenon, but as award-winning historian Louise Foxcroft shows, we have been struggling with what to eat, when and how much, ever since the Greeks and the Romans first pinched an inch.

Meticulously researched, surprising and sometimes shocking, Calories and Corsets tells the epic story of our complicated relationship with food, the fashions and fads of body shape, and how cultural beliefs and social norms have changed over time. Combining research from medical journals, letters, articles and the dieting bestsellers we continue to devour (including one by an octogenarian Italian in the sixteenth century), Foxcroft reveals the extreme and often absurd lengths people will go to in order to achieve the perfect body, from eating carbolic soap to chewing every morsel hundreds of times to a tasteless pulp.

This unique and witty history exposes the myths and anxieties that drive today's multi-billion pound dieting industry - and offers a welcome perspective on how we can be healthy and happy in our bodies.

About the author

Louise Foxcroft has a PhD in History from the University of Cambridge. Her book Hot Flushes, Cold Science: A history of the modern menopause [9781847081711] was winner of the Longman/History Today Prize, 2009. Calories & Corsets: A history of dieting over 2,000 years was shortlisted for a Food Writer's Guild Prize 2013. She has written for the Times, Independent, Observer, Guardian, andLondon Review of Books among others; has appeared on BBC, ITV, RTE and Al Jazeera English; and has contributed to BBC R4 programmes, including The Medicalisation of Normality, Am I Normal?, Woman's Hour, Open Country, You & Yours, Inside Science and The Long View. She is company secretary of Village Underground, a non-profit space for creativity and culture in the heart of East London, and a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge.


A compelling history of mankind's peculiar and often perverse relationship with dieting ... like a grown-up version of Horrible Histories ... her style is pacy and she has a wonderfully light touch

- The Times

Immensely readable and very enjoyable, brilliantly researched and filled with fascinating, often hilarious facts

- Arabella Weir

This witty history of dieting is full of interesting facts ... a great reminder that the basic principles of weight loss never change

- Elle

Elegantly written and full of tasty morsels

- Jemima Lewis, Mail on Sunday

Astutely researched ... amusing, alarming and poignant by turns.

- Nature

Additional Information

Imprint: Profile Books
Subject: History & Classics

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