Article ID: CBB001221620

“Abhorreas Pinguedinem”: Fat and Obesity in Early Modern Medicine (c. 1500--1750) (2012)


Stolberg, Michael (Author)

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Volume: 43
Pages: 370--378

Publication Date: 2012
Edition Details: Part of a special section: “Assimilating Knowledge---Food and Nutrition in Early Modern Physiologies”
Language: English

Contrary to a widely held belief, the medicalization of obesity is not a recent development. Obesity was extensively discussed in leading early modern medical textbooks, as well as in dozens of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century dissertations. Drawing upon ancient and medieval writings, these works discussed the negative impact of obesity upon health and linked it with premature death. Obesity was particularly associated with apoplexy, paralysis, asthma and putrid fevers, and a range of therapeutic options was proposed. This paper offers a first survey of the medical understanding of the causes, effects and treatment of obesity in the early modern period. It examines the driving forces behind the physicians' interest and traces the apparently rather limited response to their claims among the general public. Comparing early modern accounts of obesity with the views and stereotypes prevailing today, it notes the impact of changing medical, moral and aesthetic considerations and identifies, among other things, a shift in the early modern period from concepts of pathological compression to images of the obese body as lax and boundless.

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Article Orland, Barbara; Spary, E. C. (2012) Introduction. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (p. 317). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Easton, Patricia
Lewis, Daniel
La Berge, Ann Fowler
Schulkin, Jay
Power, Michael L.
Gilman, Sander L.
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
Social History of Medicine
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Public Understanding of Science
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadien d'Histoire de la Medecine
Johns Hopkins University Press
Oxford University Press
Duke University Press
Harvard University
Claremont Graduate University
Weight management
Nutrition; dietetics
Public health
Human body
Santorio, Santorio
United States
Great Britain
Early modern
16th century
17th century
18th century
20th century, late
19th century
World Health Organization (WHO)

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