1950s Vintage Diet Advice: "No one ever got fat from eating too little."

As many of you know I have an extensive collection of vintage diet books and booklets from the 1950s and earlier. Shown are some of my quirky little pocket sized books, one of which is DIETMASTER copyright 1952 that promises to deliver 21,952 complete daily reducing diets in a 4 1/4" inch 56 page booklet! How can that be? I'll show you.

But first, here are a few quotes in the beginning of DIETMASTER:

Obesity has been called the most frequent abnormality appearing in routine examinations.

Editorial, Journal American Medical Association
January 19th, 1952, page 206

Overweight people account for a good fourth of our mortality according to our National Institution of Health.

Dr. M. Fishbein

There is a 1% increase in mortality for every pound of excess weight.

W.M. Gould, M.D.
North Carolina Medical Journal
326-334 July, 1950 

Obesity is the norm now, so it shows how much our collective weight has changed since 1952.  The two warnings given by Dr. Fishbein and Dr. Gould (the author) are dire. 

Now, on to the secret of how to fit over 21,000 daily diet meal plans in a flimsy little pocket paperback.

The 28 day diet in the DIETMASTER which ordinarily would give but 28 daily selections, gives the staggering choice of 21,952 daily menus.  

This was accomplished simply by cutting each page into three parts, the upper for breakfast, the middle for lunch (or supper) and the lower for dinner.


  1. That's amazing! I don't know about the "Eat All You Want," but that may not have been the doctors decision to say that. The fact that we have been warned about obesity since the 50's, and nothing has stopped its growth is disconcerting.

    1. The "eat all you want" is of certain food groups only (mainly protein) and zero carbs. Kind of Atkins-esque and not something I've come across before. I can't find any copies of this book online. Maybe there's a reason for that!

      As far as the warning not stopping the growth of obesity rates, I think it did help through the 1950s evidenced by the lower rates compared to today. I believe it's the softening of standards, movement away from that kind of straight talk and the other stuff I wrote about in my book that undermined good advice. As you know much of the stern and steady 1950s advice is now considered outdated and insensitive.

  2. Interesting some of the food choices they had back then. Jellied beef bouillon? Beet greens? And it says tea or coffee sweetened with saccharine. I didn't realize they had artificial sweeteners back then.

    Somewhere along time ago I came across a low carb diet from that era. The only thing I remember is a meal of cottage cheese and a hamburger patty without the bun. Low carb meals were to be eaten if you needed to lose a few pounds.

    1. In the 1950s the magazine and dime store book diets were usually comprised of protein-heavy, low starch menus.


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