Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 41.djvu/382

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are a little contrary to those generally received; but I think I shall succeed in convincing those who will go carefully into the matter with me that many preconceived conceptions on the subject of diet will not bear investigation. Perhaps the particular condition of the system that I am called upon to treat—obesity—gives me a greater insight into the exact effect of diet than falls to the lot of the ordinary physician or specialist. To begin with, I will assail a time-honored belief—viz., that meat is a heating food—that is, in the sense of giving warmth, and raising the heat of the body; and that farinaceous foods are the reverse. People believe that the less meat they eat in the summer the better, "because it tends to heat the system." Now, it is a curious thing that in dieting people for the reduction of fat by dietetic means only—and this I have to do at all seasons of the year—I am in the habit of cutting off farinaceous foods, sugar, and fat, and giving large quantities of meat, green vegetables, stewed fruit, and other non-fattening substances, in quantity regulated according to the height, weight, and physical or mental work of the individual, male or female, as the case may be; with the result that in the colder months of the year people tell me that they do not feel too warm, clothe as they will. To so great an extent does this sometimes occur, that I am obliged to supplement the non-fattening diet by giving a little heat-forming food, such as cream, or a slightly increased amount of bread, or a small quantity of fat. The result is at once apparent. The body warmth becomes more comfortable. Now, what does this show? It shows that the foods that supply heat are more particularly farinaceous foods, sugar, and fat;[1] and this is admitted by all dieticians now. If this is so—and it undoubtedly is—it naturally stands to reason that when the external temperature performs this duty, the individual can not require so much food that will, by its chemical decomposition in the body, maintain a high temperature, and, if taken, as is usually the case, in excess, become an incumbrance by being stored as fat. It must be distinctly understood that the argument which I have used, where the heat-forming food is cut off by me, is where the surplus fat in the body is in excess—that is, in corpulency and when it is desirable to get rid by dietetic means of the accumulated fat in the system. In this case the fat is the storehouse from which the system draws to sustain its warmth, as long as the stored fat is in excess.

A fat animal will live without food months longer than a thin one. A pig buried by the fall of a cliff at Dover was dug out alive one hundred and sixty days after. When it was buried by

  1. The Eskimo eats twelve pounds of fat a day.