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Title: Obesity, or Excessive Corpulence: The Various Causes and the Rational Means of Cure
Author: Dancel, François
Language: English
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                         EXCESSIVE CORPULENCE:

                          THE VARIOUS CAUSES
                      THE RATIONAL MEANS OF CURE.

                      From the French of Dancel.

                       TRANSLATED AND EDITED BY
                        M. BARRETT, M.A., M.D.

                W. C. CHEWETT & CO., KING STREET EAST.



The subject of "Obesity," including its cause and treatment, has
received during the past few years a great deal of attention both in
England and on the Continent. Thousands of persons have realized the
extraordinary benefit to be derived from the simple treatment laid down
in the following pages.

Some members of the medical profession have, in the course of their
practice, availed themselves of the theory first propounded by our
Author, but have failed to acknowledge--either through ignorance or
inadvertence--the source of their information.

Under these circumstances it has been deemed an act of justice, though
tardy, to place before the profession and the public a translation of
the original work of DANCEL, published at Paris, in 1854. Some slight
modifications in matters of theory have, however, been introduced,
which the progress of science imperatively demanded.

The invariable success which has attended the treatment of several
cases of obesity in this city, in accordance with the principles
established by DANCEL, warrants the assertion that the system is in
every respect worthy of public confidence.


To the many individuals of both sexes who are afflicted with an
excessive development of fat, rendering the ordinary duties of life
not only irksome but ofttimes impossible,--an easy method of reducing
obesity, in nowise interfering with the ordinary daily avocations of
the patient, nor demanding any diminution in the actual amount of food
consumed; requiring the use of none but the mildest and most harmless
medicinal agents; improving at the same time the general health, and
augmenting bodily and mental vigour,--must prove acceptable.

The process will be found not a mere speculative theory, but one based
upon the great laws of Nature, as manifested throughout the whole of
the animal kingdom.


Can corpulence be reduced without injuriously affecting the general
health? This is the grand question, and it is suggestive of another,
which is:--an inordinate amount of fat once having been deposited
in and among the living tissues, is its presence necessary for the
preservation of the health and life of the individual? My answer
is,--most assuredly no! Every one knows that an undue degree of
corpulence is not only accompanied with great inconvenience to the
individual, but is, in most instances productive of ill health, and too
frequently of positive disease.

Having answered this question, another occurs:--are there any
substances generally known to the profession which have the power
either to destroy fat or to cause its disappearance, and which, at the
same time, will have no action upon the other tissues of the body? My
reply is most assuredly there are such; and I will prove my assertion
in this respect to be correct, without resorting to the use of subtle
reasonings or invoking the aid of learned theories, but will be content
to rest it upon the sure foundation of chemical science,--on that
science which teaches the action of one body with another, which shews
us that in some cases no change whatever is effected by the mechanical
combination of two or more indifferent substances; and that in other
instances, the chemical union of two bodies will be productive of a
third, having properties wholly dissimilar from either of the two
original substances:--thus, that one or more elementary substances or
chemical compounds may enter into combination with a fatty body to
produce a third, and yet have no power of action whatsoever upon the
muscles, the bones, the nerves, or any other than the fatty tissues of
the living organism.

Knowing, therefore, the chemical constituents of fat, and also those
entering into the composition of the several articles of diet which
are principally made use of in the civilized world, we are enabled to
say of a certain class of alimentary substances, that such contain
the elementary ingredients of fat; and that if you desire to escape
the inconveniences and evils attendant on corpulency, it will be well
to abstain from them; and that, on the other hand, by making use of
such and such alimentary substances, and that too in any quantity
the appetite may prompt, there will be no danger of suffering the
inconveniences alluded to, because such substances contain but a minute
portion of those elements which enter into the composition of fat.

In the following treatise, a system for the reduction of corpulence,
based upon the above well-recognized truths, will be found fully
developed, and its correctness established by means of numerous cases
brought forward, in which the results have been entirely satisfactory,
and where the patients have kindly permitted me to state their names
and addresses.



  Translator's Preface                                            iii.
  Author's Preface                                                  v.
  Author's Preface to Third Edition                               vii.

                              CHAPTER I.

  Introduction                                                       1

                              CHAPTER II.

  Sterility                                                          7
  Virility                                                           8

                             CHAPTER III.

  Hernia                                                             9
  Umbilical Hernia                                                  10
  Medical Theories                                                  14
  Medical Specialism                                                16
  Periodic Headache                                                 17
  Effect of loss of blood                                           18
  Apoplexy                                                          19
  Sanguineous Apoplex                                               20
  Pulmonary Affections                                              21
  Fatty Liver                                                       22
  Abdominal Dropsy                                                  23
  Hepatic Obstruction                                               24
  Broussais, his Theory                                             25
  Signs of Hepatic Obstruction                                      27
  Uterine Affections                                                28
  Skin Disease                                                      29
  Cause of Obesity                                                  30
  Hysteria                                                          31
  Sudden Death                                                      32

                              CHAPTER IV.

  Quantity of Fat                                                   35
  Case in Java                                                      36
  Appearance of the Obese                                           37
  Pallor                                                            38
  Varicose Veins                                                    40
  Somnolence                                                        41
  Effects of Exercise                                               43
  Pre-disposition to Fat                                            44
  Intestinal Tract                                                  46
  Composition of Fat                                                47
  Chemistry of Fat                                                  48
  Experimental Feeding                                              50
  Effects of Fluids                                                 51
  Nitrogenous Food                                                  52
  Carnivora                                                         53
  Hippopotamus                                                      54
  Whale Tribe                                                       55
  Insufficient Exercise                                             56
  Active Exercise                                                   57
  Jail Prisoners                                                    58
  Carbon of Plants                                                  59

                              CHAPTER V.

  Treatment of Obesity                                              60
  Delarding                                                         61
  Compulsory Abstinence                                             62
  Use of Acids                                                      63
  Use of Iodine                                                     64
  Similarity of Fat and Water                                       65
  Alkalis                                                           66
  Bi-Carbonate of Soda                                              67
  Alkalis alone not sufficient                                      68
  Increased Tone                                                    69

                              CHAPTER VI.

  Cases of Reduction of Corpulence                                  70
  Case of Guénaud                                                   71
  Increased Muscular Power                                          73
  Unimpeded Respiration                                             74
  Diet                                                              75
  Case of Widow Rollin                                              76
  Case of Chauvin                                                   77
  Case of Roberts                                                   78
  Swelling of the Legs                                              79
  Palpitation                                                       80
  Cardiac Symptoms                                                  81
  No excess of Blood                                                82
  Case of Madame Meuriot                                            83
  Case of Madame Pecquet                                            86
  Loss of One Hundred Pounds weight                                 88
  Case of Madame de M.                                              89
  Case of Lucian Eté                                                92
  Case of Madame d'Hervilly                                         93
  Case of M. Desbouillons                                           94
  Systematic Opposition                                             96
  Trembley                                                          97
  Not a matter of Faith                                             98
  Fat and Fatigue                                                   99
  Case of Madame C.                                                100
  Change of Temperament                                            101
  Case of Albert C.                                                102
  Case of Mr. L.                                                   103
  Case of Dr. Halberg                                              105
  Case of Jules Wimy                                               107
  The Postmaster at Orleans                                        109
  Constancy of Result                                              110
  Resolution necessary                                             111
  The Fat Professor                                                113
  Cases of Skin Disease                                            114
  Prejudices Overcome                                              115

                             CHAPTER VII.

  On the selection of alimentary substances favorable to
    the reduction of Corpulence                                    116
  Man Omnivorous                                                   117
  Power of Selection                                               118
  Of Meats                                                         119
  Of Fish                                                          120
  Of Milk                                                          121

                             CHAPTER VIII.

  Of Beverage                                                      122
  Beer and Cider                                                   123
  Alcoholic Drinks                                                 124
  Wine and Water                                                   125
  Of Tea and Coffee                                                126
  Strong Coffee                                                    127




The physician has a twofold duty to perform. He is called upon not
merely to alleviate pain, and to undertake the cure of disease, but
he is, moreover, required to lay down rules for the preservation of
health, the prevention of disease, and its too frequent concomitant,

Now, health being dependent upon the due and regular performance of the
vital functions by the several physiological organs of the body, any
excessive development of these organs, or undue manifestation of force
on their part, must, of necessity, be contrary to the general health of
the body, and be productive of disease and pain.

In many persons there exists a constitutional tendency to the excessive
formation of blood, occasioning a plethoric condition, and thereby
rendering the individual liable to a great many diseases; others
again suffer from an exalted or diminished sensibility of the nervous
system, inducing some of the greatest woes to which humanity is liable.

Many different elements are combined in the structure of the various
organs of the body, and among these fat, in suitable proportion, must
be recognized as necessary for the due and equable performance of the
several organic functions.

This fat, however, often becomes excessive, giving rise at first to
great inconvenience, after a time inducing debility, and finally
constituting a disease (hitherto deemed incurable) termed obesity.

The possession of a graceful figure may be of little importance, in
so far as the happiness of most men is concerned; but as regards the
gentler sex, such is by no means the case. Women are too apt to believe
that, in the absence of physical beauty, the possession of mental and
worldly treasures can only suffice to render them endurable in their
social relations. Beauty, the richest gift of nature, deserves to be
carefully guarded by those who happily possess it; corpulence, its
enemy, is destructive to the finest organization.

It is a painful sight to witness the many instances of women, who,
though still of youthful years, and whose elegance of form, but a
short time since, did but enhance their unsurpassed loveliness of
countenance, lose by degrees, in the midst of an overwhelming fat,
all this relative and graceful harmony, and whose ever increasing
corpulence serves only to render them ill-favoured and repulsive. In
all cases, so detrimental a change is much to be regretted; but for
ladies mingling in the fashionable spheres of life, it is to be borne
only when such a condition can be shewn to be utterly beyond all hope
of relief.

Excessive corpulence has destroyed the prospects of many, both men
and women, by rendering them incompetent to discharge the duties of a
profession by which they had hitherto gained an honourable livelihood.
Superabundance of fat prevents an infantry officer from following his
regiment--a cavalry officer from being long on horseback; and thus both
are alike compelled to retire from the service. The operatic artiste,
whose voice or personal beauty had been hitherto a mine of wealth to
the theatre, falls into indigence, because an excessive development of
fat now embarrasses the lungs or destroys her personal charms.

Every one engaged in intellectual pursuits will say that since he has
increased in fat he finds that he cannot work so easily as he did when
he was thin. The painter feels the want of that vivid imagination
which was wont to guide his brush. The sculptor labours with
indifference upon the marble. The literary man feels heavy, and his
ideas no longer flow in obedience to his will. The clerk in his office
is ever complaining of the efforts he is obliged to make to resist an
overwhelming drowsiness which interferes with his calculating powers,
rendering him unable to compose a letter, or even to copy one. Obesity,
in fact, lessens both physical and moral activity, and unfits man for
the ordinary business of life.

It was in conformity with this opinion, no doubt, that the Romans at
one time, wishing to have no drones among them, banished those of their
fellow citizens who laboured under an excessive development of fat.
One can conceive of the existence of such a law among a people who
condemned to a like punishment any citizen known to be indifferent to
the public welfare.

We must admit, however, that it would be a grave error to assert that
all persons suffering under an excess of fat are invariably wanting
in the finer feelings, or even in moral energy. There are many living
proofs to the contrary. But it is among women chiefly that we witness
instances of great mental refinement and susceptibility, in union with
a body steadily increasing to a lamentable size.

Moralists have written that obesity is a sign of egotism; of a good
stomach, but of a bad heart; and many may be found to endorse the
sentiment. Unhappily people are easily dazzled with high sounding
words, and the sententious phrases of moralists. This is wrong; for if
we take the trouble to adopt for a moment the opposite to that which
they advance, we shall often find that this opposite is not void of
reason. In support of this remark many reasons can be advanced why a
fat person should have a good heart, and be endowed with most excellent
qualities. Corpulence, it is true, usually indicates good digestive
powers; but good digestion is not incompatible with goodness of heart.
One who digests his food easily ought to be better disposed towards
those around him, than the sickly creature labouring under dyspepsia.
What amount of temper can be expected in those who daily experience
pain in the stomach while the digestive process is going on? they can
have no joyousness of heart, but must continually be in bad humour,
too often seen in their contracted and jaundiced features. It is a
great mental effort on their part to receive you with even a seeming
cordiality. We may always accost a person with a degree of confidence,
whose skin is gracefully spread over a sufficient layer of fat. I
may be mistaken, but in my opinion we need not expect to meet in such
persons great mental anxiety, or intense egotistical feelings.

Julius Cæsar was warned a few days before his assassination that an
attempt would be made upon his life:--Antonius and Dolabella were
accused of being the conspirators. "I have but little dread of those
two men," said he, "they are too fat, and pay too much attention to
their toilette; I should rather fear Brutus and Cassius, who are meagre
and pale-faced." The end justified Cæsar's opinion.

With respect to lean persons, I shall not undertake to oppose the
general opinion that a delicate organization is emblematic of a mind
endowed with a great member of most precious and good qualities,
frequently used with such energy, as by its very strength to be the
cause of bodily weakness. But let us beware of entering the domain of
Lavater, Gall and Spurzheim. We would rather say that the emblem of
health is a sufficient but not too great rotundity of person--_mens
sana in corpore sano_.


Sterility must be numbered among the infirmities induced by excessive
corpulence. This is a well attested fact in reference to the human
species, and also as to the females of the lower animals. One of the
professors in the Medical Faculty of Paris, while explaining in his
lectures how fat could interfere with conception, never failed to
cite the practice of the peasantry, who hastened to send to market
those hens which became excessively fat, because they then ceased to
lay eggs. Even plants lose their fertility by excess of fat. A plant
growing in a cultivated soil where it finds a superabundance of food
becomes sterile, because the stamens are transformed into petals,
causing double flowers.

The rule is, in order that a woman should be capable of conception,
that she should be regular--that is to say, that she should lose each
month a certain quantity of blood. Now it is asserted by medical men
that, in general, those women who are thin, and who are almost without
exception fertile, lose much more blood than fat women. Menstruation
lasts with them from five to ten days, whilst fat women lose but very
little blood during two or three days at the most. It may be added that
in the first of these three days the loss is considerable, the second
day there is scarcely any, and on the third day there is more, but it
then ceases.

Just in proportion as a thin woman becomes fat, her menstrual flow
diminishes, and so much the more speedily, the quicker she becomes fat.
Some women who have thus increased in fat have ceased to menstruate
at thirty-five, at twenty-five, and even at twenty years of age. Some
young girls, regular at twelve or fourteen years of age, on becoming
fat, have ceased to menstruate and become chlorotic.

One great result of the anti-obesic treatment is, that while destroying
the excessive amount of fat, it causes women to become regular, and
thus favours conception.

Thin men in general possess greater virility than those surcharged with
fat, and in proportion as this fat is developed virility is impaired
and finally lost. This infirmity happens to many corpulent men at
fifty, forty-five and even forty years of age. Some who were very very
fat at the age of puberty, have been impotent throughout life. There
are facts which prove that virility in man, like fertility in woman,
may be restored on losing a superabundance of fat.


The human skin is capable of great extension. It may be distended to
four times its size, yet is not endowed with much elasticity. On this
account we may notice, in very fat persons, rolls of fat about the
neck, back, buttocks, arms and pubis. The epidermis, which constitutes
the external layer of the skin, is but slightly capable of extension.
When distended beyond a certain point, it tears, and produces those
white streaks which are to be seen on the abdomen of pregnant women, or
of those who have borne children, and also of those who have laboured
under severe dropsical ascites. These white streaks may be formed upon
all parts of the body, when the skin is considerably distended: thus
they have been seen in a young woman twenty-eight years of age, who
weighed three hundred and four pounds. In her case these white streaks
were to be seen upon the arms, the shoulders, the breasts, &c.

The skin of the abdomen would not be sufficient to retain the abdominal
viscera _in situ_, were it not that between these organs and the
integument there exists a fibrous or muscular layer, in some places
double, consisting of a stronger and less extensible tissue than
the skin, in order to strengthen the abdominal walls. It sometimes
happens that this fleshy layer, having yielded to a certain amount
of distension, occasioned by the volume of the intestines, and of
their surrounding fat, and being thereby unduly stretched, permits
the passing between its fibres of a certain portion of intestine or
of fat, which, lying immediately under and pushing the skin before
it, constitutes what is termed a hernia. Dropsy or pregnancy are
frequently the primary cause of the various descriptions of hernia,
termed inguinal, crural, &c. Umbilical hernia is that which is usually
produced by a too great development of fatty tissue in the abdomen. The
umbilicus is that part of the abdomen which is the least susceptible of
dilatation. When the belly becomes enlarged to a moderate extent, the
navel becomes depressed, shewing that this part does not easily yield
to the pressure from within; but it is supported by the recti muscles,
those two bands of fleshy fibres lying immediately beneath the skin,
and passing from above downwards, on each side and close to the navel.
In extreme development of the abdomen, these muscles are displaced
from their normal position near the umbilicus, and no longer lend it
support. The fibres of the umbilical ring are thus separated by the
pressure exerted by the abdominal fat, and a portion passing through
the fibres pushes the skin before it. A small protrusion takes place,
which is not yet outwardly apparent, because the remaining fibres of
the umbilical ring still afford considerable resistance, and retain the
ring concealed in the deep hollow which is observable in the navel of
fat persons. In order to determine the existence of umbilical hernia
at this early stage, the patient should be placed in the recumbent
position. On introducing the little finger into the navel depression,
and directing the patient to cough, we feel an impulse against the
finger which is not to be felt, under the same circumstances, over any
other portion of the abdominal walls.

In some cases of hernia it is not absolutely necessary to place the
person in the recumbent position, but in this case it is indispensable:
unless we do so the impulse cannot be felt, since it cannot take place
in the upright position.

In the year 1851, a lady consulted me. She was then very fat, and
the abdomen was greatly enlarged. I said to her, "You have probably
umbilical hernia." "I have long feared that such was the case," she
replied, "but happily I have not. Only a few days ago my own physician
examined me, and he declared that I had not. He has advised me to wear
an abdominal supporter." Noticing her great enlargement, I was not
satisfied of the non-existence of hernia. I begged to be allowed an
examination. Having obtained her consent, I immediately detected, by
the means I have previously pointed out, a small hernia in the depth
of the navel cavity. She had great confidence in her own physician,
and told me positively that I was mistaken. I recommended her to see
her own physician, and to be examined again by him in the same manner
as I had examined her. There was no doubt in my mind but that he would
detect it, and such was the case; but he said that it had occurred
since his previous examination: possibly so. An umbilical truss was
immediately adapted; for it is only in hernia at its early stage that
we can hope for a cure by means of a truss, and by removing the cause,
that is to say, by reducing the mass of fat existing in the abdomen.

If the development of a small hernia is not prevented, it gradually
increases, and makes its appearance upon the walls of the abdomen. At
first it is of the size of a small pear, a hen's egg; afterwards it
increases to six, eight, ten, fifteen or twenty pounds weight. It then
assumes more or less the shape of a mushroom, which is exceedingly
troublesome, as it requires to be supported by means of a hollow truss,
a species of box with springs. Umbilical hernia is to be met in more
than one half the number of persons who measure fifty-five inches round
the abdomen.

Such is the progress of medical science, that the following ideas
as to the diseases which may be engendered by excessive corpulence,
would have been deemed, twenty-five years ago, unworthy of a doctor
of medicine: a hundred and fifty years ago they would have obtained
the applause of the physicians of those days. At the present time I
foresee--I am indeed sure, that the medical profession will acknowledge
these same ideas to be founded upon reason and observation, two
indispensable requisites in all that concerns the healing art.

When the system of medicine founded by Borelli was in vogue, called
the "Iatro Mathematical," it would certainly have been acknowledged
that a superabundance of fat, when developed in the human body, could
interfere with the vital organs in the performance of their functions,
and thus be the cause of much disturbance and of many diseases.
But this would no longer have been admitted, when Broussais, the
distinguished author of "Chronic Phlegmasia," in our own day, in
harsh and severe language, and with an air of conviction, loudly
proclaimed that all disease resulted from local irritation, whence it
was irradiated throughout the organism, as in the case when a sharp
instrument pierces the flesh. This theory was the very opposite to
the teachings of the majority of medical men of a previous age, who
maintained that local disease resulted from a general disturbance of
the whole system.

Thus, if the stomach were affected, Broussais called the disease
a gastritis (or inflammation of the stomach), which might induce
disturbance of the system at large; while many of the old school would
have said that if the stomach were especially diseased, it was because
nature chose that channel in order to eliminate from the body the
morbid principle which in the outset had attacked the entire system.

It belongs not to the subject on hand to endeavour to signalize all
the errors of the old school, nor to set forth what truth there may be
in the system; but I would ask one simple question. It has happened to
every medical practitioner to be called in to see a person recently
taken ill, and that he has said, "The disease is not yet well
characterized; by-and-bye, or to-morrow, I shall be able to form an
opinion, and say what the disease is." But until this "by-and-bye,"
until this "to-morrow," what happens to the patient? for it is evident
that there is sickness, a general ailment. And when one particular
portion of the body, an organ, is principally affected, when the
disease has there manifested itself, as we say, shall we be far wrong
in saying that it is a kind of crisis? It would be just what happens,
only more evidently, in those fevers which terminate in a critical

Nor is it advisable that I should speak of the founder of physiological
medicine. His vast labours are the result of great genius, and have
long influenced the medical world with all the weight of a master mind.
Having been his pupil for many years, I shall never cease to admire
his life of scientific labour. Nevertheless, I cannot refrain from
remarking how much he has done to lessen the spirit of medical enquiry.
By localizing all diseases, and by his system of irritation, without
taking into account the constitution as a whole, how greatly is the
labour of the physician reduced! how little knowledge is necessary on
his part to be deemed worthy of the title of Doctor of Medicine! Once
upon the highway of localization, once engaged in this contracted
study, there is no stop. It is no longer necessary to be acquainted
with all the organs, both in a state of health and of disease; the
extent of territory to be explored is reduced. The fashion at the
present day is, that a physician of this school should know only how to
treat the diseases of one particular organ, and rarely of two; that he
should be, in fact, a specialist. But are not the principal organs of
the body, for the most part, mutually dependent on each other, and all
of them subject to a general _consensus_? What is the consequence of
this medical specialism? Why, that every physician so engaged thinks,
and most conscientiously, that the patient before him labours under
that particular disease to which he particularly devotes his attention.
This is perfectly natural. The mind of man is so formed, that it is
narrowed, and loses its powers of comparison and of judgment, whenever
it is concentrated and brought to bear solely upon one subject, one
single object. Man is no longer capable of reasoning upon a science or
an art, when he puts it out of sight as a whole, in order to devote
himself entirely to one of its parts; but ends by making the subject of
his study the principal point, the all-important one, whence flow, in
his opinion, all the rest; and finally assumes that a part is equal
to the whole. When a patient complains of palpitation of the heart,
he prescribes a bleeding, leeches, digitalis. If another complain of
sense of weight or oppression, bleedings, softening syrups, troches,
&c., are prescribed. If another complain of headache, dizziness, with
threatening apoplexy, he is bled.

Everything is treated locally, without inquiring whether the evil be or
be not the effect of some general cause.

Among a vast number of general causes, giving rise to disease, I
purpose to treat of one, and that is excessive corpulence, termed
obesity. In our recent medical works, no reference is made to this
morbid predisposition, in regard to the diseases occasioned by it. I
do not mean to say that superabundance of fat is the cause of all the
ills that flesh is heir to; but I am persuaded and do affirm that it is
often the primary cause of many diseases.

Thus, in cases of headache, there are assuredly many which are
produced by superabundance of fat, because they commenced when that
superabundance began to appear, and ceased on its being diminished.
Frequent headache, becoming periodic, is constantly met with in fat
people. Nothing is more common among such persons than dizziness. In
these cases, are not the blood-vessels oppressed with fat interfering
with a free circulation of the blood, and is not fat therefore the
cause of all these troubles?

But it may be said that the blood produces these affections, since,
after loss of blood, the patients are relieved. I do not agree with
this, and I say that the blood is not in such cases the cause of these
ailments; because fat people, both men and women, have no more blood
than thin persons: I maintain that they have even less. It is granted
that loss of blood in cases of headache, vertigo, alleviate and even
cure these affections; but only for a time; for eight days, or a month
or two at the most, and then gradually reappear, and bleeding is again

This amelioration, these momentary cures, produced by blood-letting,
are to be explained in such cases by saying that the quantity of blood,
although not so great in fat as in thin people, is impeded in its
circulation, and that loss of blood, by still further diminishing the
quantity, facilitates for a while its passage through the blood-vessels.

This method is consequently only palliative; it does not attack the
root of the evil. Bleeding takes away blood which is troublesome only
in consequence of the excess of fat; for every physician is aware that
repeated bleedings tend to the development of fat in an extraordinary
degree. Fat people insist upon being bled at more frequently recurring
periods, because their corpulence continues to increase, and headaches
and dizziness become more frequent. The seemingly useful remedy
increases the cause of the trouble.

Notwithstanding the temporary relief, and apparent cure, corpulence
finally produces such a disturbance of the brain, or of some other
vital organ, as suddenly to produce death in the course of an hour
or two, with every appearance of excess of health. Usually an attack
of serous or sanguineous apoplexy is the cause of death in persons
labouring under excessive corpulence.

It is an important fact, and one which I have noticed throughout
twenty-five years of medical practice, that wherever I have been called
to a case of apoplexy occurring in a fat person, death has ensued
in spite of every care both on my part and of the other physicians
summoned together with myself to attend the case. Bleedings, repeated
three or four times in the course of twenty-four hours, leeches applied
to the temples, mustard poultices, blisters--everything has failed to
prevent a fatal termination. On the other hand, I can flatter myself
that I have successfully treated, by means of bleeding, leeching,
&c., persons of a spare habit of body, when seized with apoplexy, some
having made a perfect recovery, and others retaining only a partial
paralysis. I am persuaded that physicians, if they will reflect upon
the results of their practice, will acknowledge that this is their
experience also. In these cases an excess of fat is prejudicial,
therefore, to life. The existence of an apoplectic tendency in certain
persons is admitted by all physicians, that is, in the corpulent, with
a short neck. Fat plays a most important part in such a constitution.
Many persons have naturally a short bony framework of the neck; but
these persons, on becoming fat, have scarcely any neck; and those in
whom the neck is naturally long, on the supervention of fat about the
shoulders, chest, and lower portion of the face, become short-necked.
The much-dreaded predisposition to apoplexy is consequent upon the
development of fat. It will be seen, on reading the remarks upon
the cure of obesity, that in those cases where there has been a
reduction in the amount of fat, this tendency to apoplexy and cerebral
disturbance has disappeared.

Asthma, bronchitis, bronchorrhoea, pulmonary catarrh, in fat
persons, both male and female, do they terminate favourably? If so,
it is only for a while, to return, again to disappear, and finally to
remain permanently, with a more or less constant cough, expectoration
and oppression. In such cases, permanent cure becomes impossible,
unless assisted by a reduction of fat. How are these phenomena to be
explained? Some physicians will say that the lungs, being oppressed,
and their movements constrained by neighbouring parts, and by the
abdominal viscera, become obnoxious to inflammation; while others will
maintain that these bronchial and pulmonary affections of fat people,
are due to an afflux of humours to the part. Explain the presence
of these affections in either way, I am persuaded that a reduced
corpulency will be favourable to the restoration of health. The cases
which I shall hereafter adduce will sustain my views. Let us enquire
into the cause of those frequent palpitations and dull pains in the
region of the heart so common in persons of excessive corpulency.
Pharmacopoeal remedies are for the most part unavailing in these
cases. We shall find, further on, in our cases of recovery, that they
have disappeared simultaneously with the undue _embonpoint_, a proof
that they frequently arise from obstruction to the motion of the heart.
The fat which overloads it and the neighbouring viscera, occupies too
large a portion of the space necessary for the free execution of the
heart's movements, and hence the spasms, sense of oppression, &c.

The fatty liver is well known to be a liver containing in its substance
more than the normal amount of fat; a morbid condition intentionally
induced in certain animals for the purpose of gain. In man the liver
often becomes surcharged with fat, giving rise to obstruction of the
liver. The term, obstruction, conveys an idea of the disease arising
from this cause. The liver secretes bile, which, in order to reach the
duodenum, flows through a small duct. If this duct be compressed, the
flow of bile is impeded, and the result is uneasiness and disease. The
liver is traversed by a vast number of arteries and veins, through
which, in a condition of health, the blood finds a ready passage. If,
however, an undue development of fat should take place in the tissue
of the liver, these vessels become compressed. The inferior vena cava
receives all the blood emerging from the liver, and conveys it to the
right side of the heart, thence to be sent to the lungs, to undergo
that aëration which, by changing it from venous to arterial blood,
renders it fit for the nourishment of the various parts of the body.
Any obstruction to the circulation through the liver must necessarily
give rise to the most serious consequences; for the blood which it
contains is in no wise fitted for nutrition.

In case of obstruction to the circulation through this organ there may
arise swelling of the legs, thighs and of the abdomen. It is one of
the recognized causes of abdominal dropsy, _ascites_; of dropsy of the
lower extremities, _anasarca_. Hence arise those frequent swellings
of the legs, with their attendant incurable ulcers, so often met with
in fat people. And when we reflect that the venous circulation is
carried on by means of a vital power which has to overcome the force of
gravity, causing the blood to flow from below upwards, from the feet
towards the heart, we can readily understand how easily any slight
obstruction in the liver may give rise to serious consequences, while
on the other hand it will be manifest, that the liver being freed from
its excess of fat, the venous circulation will be re-established, and
those troublesome affections alluded to, therewith got rid of.

However, every medical man does not see, or is not willing to see
matters in this light. Many will insist that this hepatic obstruction
is a chronic hepatitis, or chronic inflammation of the liver, which
is to be subdued by the lancet, leeches, blue pill, Vichy water and
vegetable diet. And what becomes of the patient? I know I shall always
remember a circumstance which occurred in 1829. I was at that time a
surgeon attached to the military hospital of the Val-de-Grâce, where
Broussais, the illustrious founder of physiological medicine, was head
physician. It was my duty to make the _post mortem_ examinations,
to record the several abnormal conditions found to exist, and which
had been the cause of death. Upon one occasion, while thus engaged,
Broussais entered the amphitheatre, saying, "Bring your instruments
with you, we are going to hold a _post mortem_ in the city." We went
to the house. A statement was required to be put on record as to the
organic lesions which had produced death in the case of a young woman,
about 25 or 26 years of age, belonging to a wealthy and noble family.
It was of importance to have such a document, because the mother of
this young woman had died at an early age, and the family wished to
be able to prove in a court of law that death had not occurred in
consequence of any hereditary disease. Broussais and I entered the
room where lay the body of the deceased. We met there two of the
professors of the Faculty of Paris, another physician, and the usual
medical attendant of the family. A few words passed in reference to
the previous ailments of the deceased. The family physician, a young
man imbued with the principles of Broussais, told us that he had
been in attendance upon the deceased lady about a year before, for a
disease other than that which had caused her death; that he had cured
her by means of bleedings and leeches, and that after her recovery
she had enjoyed the advantages of sea bathing; that in the illness
which had just terminated fatally, he had made use of bleedings and
an antiphlogistic regimen. The body of the deceased being removed
from the bed and placed upon a table was remarkable for its excessive
development of fat. The head having been opened, the brain was
submitted to inspection and acknowledged to be healthy; and the same
of the tongue, the oesophagus, the larynx, the bronchi, the lungs,
the heart, the spleen, the kidneys, the bladder: the womb was somewhat
engorged, and larger, heavier than normal, but without any trace of
inflammation. All the principal joints were opened and found healthy;
likewise glands, arteries, veins and lymphatics. The alimentary canal
was carefully examined throughout, without discovering any organic
lesion in the stomach or large intestine. A few reddish brown spots
were, however, to be seen in the small intestine. Broussais upon
this pronounced death to have been caused by enteritis. Several of
the medical men, on the other hand, were unwilling to admit that
these reddish brown spots could have caused death. The liver was then
examined. On separating one of the lobes a layer of grease was left
on the blade of the knife, as is the case always in cutting into a
fatty liver, but which phenomenon is never manifested in the case of a
healthy liver. Those gentlemen who had demurred to the reddish brown
spots as being the cause of death were of opinion that the fatty liver,
or which is the same thing, the obstruction to the hepatic circulation
had produced death. Broussais could not agree with this opinion, but
dwelt upon the importance of the testimony revealed by the reddish
brown spots, and a warm discussion ensued. The _post mortem_ being
over, I returned to the hospital, leaving these gentlemen in the midst
of a discussion as to how the medico-legal statement accounting for the
death should be drawn up. At this time I was scarcely able to arrive
at a satisfactory conclusion, although I had already spent several
years in the hospital as assistant to M. Fouquier, and had frequently
listened to the teachings of Broussais, which explained all diseases
as due to irritation dependent upon organic lesion; and always ended
by shewing that the only rational treatment for every morbid affection
consisted in blood-letting, leeching and low diet. It may be mentioned
as somewhat remarkable that at the _post mortem_ held upon the corpse
of Broussais, no organic lesion sufficient to account for death was
discoverable. In his own person, the greatest possible contradiction
to his theory was thus presented. Since that time my attention has
been particularly directed to this subject. In my own practice I have
constantly observed that when any obstruction occurs in the liver no
progress is ever made towards the cure of diseases arising from this
cause, until the obstruction is overcome, and if not overcome, that
death supervenes; and the cause of this death is to be found only
in the liver, as in the case of the lady just mentioned. One of the
earliest signs of obstruction of the liver, is swelling of the legs
and ankles, appearing at first only towards evening, and not to be
noticed on the following morning, but again appearing during the day.
It disappears during the night, because the horizontal position favours
the circulation in the lower extremities. In this position fluids have
not to contend with the laws of gravity. It is highly important that
this evil should be at once remedied. The treatment for the reduction
of _embonpoint_ we shall find to be infallible in such cases.

It is indubitable that almost all fat women labour under some uterine
affection. Some are troubled with engorgement of the organ, with
a continual sensation of weight, and a dragging of the sides and
back. Others suffer from falling of the womb and displacement. These
disorders are frequently attended with granulations of the neck of
the womb, menorrhagia, leucorrhea, &c. Pessaries were formerly the
usual remedies in such cases, but latterly it has been well understood
that in fat women these conditions are due to the fact that the womb,
a body floating within the abdomen is depressed, displaced by the
large mass of fat collected about the intestines. In order to prevent
this intestinal mass of fat from pressing upon the womb, abdominal
supporters have been contrived; but this intestinal mass cannot be
so lifted as to set the uterus free, without making pressure upon
the stomach and lungs, and so giving rise to a sense of oppression
and suffocation; and even should such means afford some relief, it
would prove but temporary: the cause of the trouble would be still
persistent. In order to effect the replacement of the uterus, the mass
of fat must be got rid of.

It is a well established fact that many fat persons are troubled with
skin diseases, which resist every treatment, and a cure is effected
only when, from some cause or other, the person has become thin. Would
it be wrong to say that in such cases the disease of the skin is due
to its over distension by fat, causing a partial stagnation of venous
blood and serous fluid?

Among female patients who consult me in reference to their obesity,
many complain of a general sense of uneasiness, with frequent pains in
the stomach, kidneys, headache, &c., asserting that their excess of fat
came on after a confinement and when they had not suckled the infant,
and thence infer that their obesity is owing to a decomposition of milk
within the system. I am not aware that this explanation has ever been
accepted, yet I do not understand why it should not be received as
valid, since it is well known that any deteriorated secretion may be
absorbed and prove noxious to the general system. Pus from an inflamed
vein may be thus re-absorbed, and the patient under such circumstances
almost invariably dies. Why may not the secreted milk be likewise
re-absorbed? I have met with many fat women from whose breasts milk
constantly flowed, although they had not borne children for the last
ten years. A lady who has followed my method of treatment for obesity,
says that she is certain that her excessive fat arose from her not
suckling her last child, and that her milk turned into fat. She has had
no children for the last eight years, and whenever she takes a child in
her arms a peculiar feeling causes an abundant flow of milk from her
breasts, which has all the properties of the healthy secretion.

It is now well understood that corpulency is the true cause of many
diseases, yet it would be folly to assign obesity as a cause of every
disease. To do so would be to detract from the value of the anti-obesic
treatment. I feel called upon, however, to relate the following account
given by one of my patients, the correctness of which was vouched for
by several of her acquaintances. She had been subject for many years
to a nervous affection, the attacks of which were so severe that
she fell to the ground, foamed at the mouth and clenched her hands,
but did not lose consciousness during the fit, which usually lasted
from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour. Such are the symptoms of
hysteria. Two years ago this lady went to the baths at Aix-la-Chapelle,
where she heard of the anti-obesic treatment. Being very strong, she
came to Paris and placed herself for two or three months under my
care. She had had several fits at Aix. I do not know whether she had
any during the the first few days after her arrival in Paris, but
at the end of a month she told me she had been perfectly free from
them, and trusted that this change was due to my treatment. Such has
really been the case; for since this lady has lost her corpulence,
she has been free from hysterical seizure. I am aware that many
thin women are hysterical. When, however, this disease is met with
in a corpulent person, and that it disappears under the anti-obesic
treatment, the cure may perhaps be fairly assigned to the treatment.
Excessive corpulence is the cause of many affections which are often
with difficulty characterized by physicians. The superintendent of a
large manufactory at Belleville received a severe blow upon the left
side, several years ago. Latterly he has become very corpulent, subject
to dizziness and headache; moreover the left leg is swollen, and he
suffers pain in the side which had been bruised. Professor Cloquet
first recommended bleedings, then leeches, afterwards frictions and
plaisters. The patient at length, wearied with the aggravation rather
than the amelioration of his ailings, came to consult me in the month
of April, 1853. In the course of two months under my treatment he
has lost his excessive corpulence, is free from pain in the side, his
leg is no longer swollen; he is active, and has now no fear of being
obliged to give up his business. This is another instance of disease
due to obesity.

After reading the preceding remarks, some astonishment must be felt
that medical writers have paid so little attention to the subject of
corpulence. It has been said not to constitute a disease: that it is a
normal condition: that it is a condition intermediate between health
and disease: that a fat person is predisposed to disease.

For my part I cannot comprehend a condition between health and
disease, with corpulence; and if such do exist it is attended with
those infirmities and serious inconveniences already mentioned.
Predisposition to disease and morbid tendency are, in the case
of persons labouring under obesity, the precursors of serous or
sanguineous apoplexy, obstructions, &c.

In fine, obesity is not always a disease, because it does not always
cause suffering; but it ought, nevertheless, not to be neglected,
because life cannot be of long duration under such circumstances, and
may terminate suddenly at any moment.

In the midst of the various duties of a medical career, I flatter
myself that I have not fallen into an error, too frequent with medical
men, that of referring all diseases to one single cause. Suspicion
may arise that I have fallen into such an error, because I speak here
only of those diseases consequent upon excessive corpulence; but I
pray the reader to remember that a vast number of diseases exist which
are altogether independent and foreign to obesity. It was, however,
necessary that I should point out those morbid phenomena which are due
to an excessive development of fat in the system.


Physical beauty, like virtue, is a type to which all approximate in
different degrees, and which, when not wholly departed from, admits
the possessor among the number of the accepted in the eyes of the
world; but if, in the case of outward figure as with inward morality,
any human attribute should appear distorted or unseemly, it gives rise
immediately to a feeling of displeasure and aversion.

Occupied at present with the consideration of physical form only, it
may be averred that one of the most frequent deformities of the human
body consists in an excessive development of fat.

In accordance with the opinions of able physiologists, fat ought to
constitute one-twentieth of the entire weight of the body in man (in
the female about one-third more than in the male). It consists of
a multitude of minute cells, frequently forming large masses held
together by a very delicate membrane, the areolar tissue, which serves
as a reservoir, and prevents the fat (which is fluid during life) from

When once fat begins to make its appearance in more than ordinary
amount, there is no reason why this augmentation should naturally cease
at any given point. This corpulence continues to increase until some
disease, often occasioned by the condition itself, terminates this
frightful increase of size.

Cases of obesity are rarely met with in mountainous countries, and
those having a great elevation above the level of the sea, where the
atmosphere is dry; whilst they are frequent in valleys and plains at
the level of the sea, having a moist atmosphere.

Men are less subject to obesity than women. The areolar tissue which
contains the fat is firmer in the male than in the female, and is not
so readily distended by the accumulation of adipose matter. Corpulence
is usually developed after the body has acquired its full growth, but
childhood is not exempt.

Not long ago, a child of four years old was exhibited at Paris, which
weighed one hundred and four pounds. Dr. Coe, an English physician,
makes mention of a man named Edward Bright, who weighed one hundred
and four pounds at ten years of age; at twenty, three hundred and
fifty-six pounds; and thirteen months before his death, five hundred
and eighty-four pounds. Another person, a native of Lincolnshire,
weighed five hundred and eighty-three pounds, and was ten feet in
circumference: he died in his twenty-ninth year. In another instance
a man weighed six hundred and nine pounds: his coat, when buttoned,
could contain seven medium-sized persons. A case is recorded of a man
who weighed six hundred and forty-nine pounds, and measured four feet
three inches across the shoulders. In the "Javannah News," for June,
1853, the following case is communicated by a medical writer: "A young
man, who lived about eighteen miles from Batavia, was remarkable for
his great size. When twenty-two years of age, he weighed five hundred
and sixty-five pounds. He continued to increase to over six hundred
pounds. He lived upon his plantation in easy circumstances. Four
weeks since, his weight began to increase at the rate of a pound and
a half, and subsequently two pounds a day. He died one day last week,
suddenly, while sitting in his arm-chair. Three days before his death,
he weighed six hundred and forty-three pounds." Dupuytren has recorded
the case of one Mary Frances Clay, of whom a plaster cast is preserved
in the Museum of the Ecole de Médecine, at Paris. This woman, a native
of Vieille Eglise, was of humble parents. Her husband travelled as
a pedler from town to town. When thirty-six years of age, she was no
longer able to accompany her husband, and took her place at the door
of a church, to beg her bread. Her height was five feet one inch, and
her circumference five feet two inches. Her head, which was small in
proportion to her size, was almost lost between two enormous shoulders,
giving her an appearance of immobility. A furrow, several inches deep,
was the only boundary between the head and chest. Her breasts were
enormous. Looking at her from behind, the shoulders were elevated by
fat, and formed two huge protuberances. The arms stood out from the
body, in consequence of cushions of fat in the armpits. On observing
the plaster cast of this person, the right side will be seen to be
much more developed than the left, owing to her habit of lying on that
side, and the fat gravitating towards it. For several years she was
able to walk from her dwelling to the station at the church door, about
a mile; but finally she was compelled to stay at home. She suffered,
while walking, from loss of breath, and had violent palpitations of
the heart. She was unable to lie down, from a sense of impending
suffocation, and was obliged to retain an upright position night and
day, seated in an arm-chair. Under these circumstances, nature soon
gave out. She fell sick, and was taken to the hospital, where she died.
About twenty years ago there was a German in Paris, named Frederick
Arrhens. He was then twenty years of age, and weighed four hundred
and fifty pounds. In circumference he measured five feet five inches,
which corresponded exactly with his stature. He was poor, and had lived
chiefly on vegetable and milk diet.

It is almost unnecessary to describe obesity, since it is known at
the first glance. The face is animated; the circulation is impeded,
and renders the complexion turgid, and sometimes almost of a deep
wine-colour. The eyes suffer from this impeded circulation; they are
sparkling, and frequently suffused with blood. The ears, which are
generally colourless in health, are, for the most part, red in those
labouring under obesity. The circulation through the head being greater
than through any other part of the body, and being impeded, an almost
continual perspiration with great heat is established; thus it is that
fat people can seldom bear to have the head covered; in some cases it
even produces dizziness. As this condition progresses, if fortunate
enough to escape threatened cerebral affections, the blood loses its
chief characteristic, and becomes watery; such persons are pale and
flabby. The integument of the lower part of the face is capable of
great distension, and here, in obesity, fat accumulates, and forms
on both sides an unsightly mass, sometimes reaching to the chest. A
roll of fat is often found on the back of the neck. The trunk becomes
enormously developed, and the breasts particularly enlarged. The arms
are very fat; and as the areolar tissue which surrounds the wrist is
of a close texture, fat cannot accumulate there, and the skin not
being distended, a deep groove or furrow is formed, as is the case in
very fat children. The hands usually participate in this excess of
_embonpoint_, but at a later period than other parts of the body. The
abdomen attains a vast size, and impedes walking; so that a person
labouring under obesity carries the head erect, and the body thrown
back, as in the case of a pregnant woman, in order to preserve the
necessary equilibrium and not fall forward. The intestinal mass, with
its surrounding fat, being connected with the kidneys, by its weight
gives rise to a dragging sensation, and causes pain on walking. It
also pushes up the diaphragm, compresses the lungs and the heart,
and becomes one of the causes of the sense of oppression complained
of by fat people. Many such, especially females, have between the
abdomen and the thighs deep furrows, which become scalded, and require
the application of starch, or of some other powder, as is the case
with infants when very fat. The integument of the thigh is readily
distensible, and allows the deposition of fat as far down as the knee
joint. At this point the areolar tissue is more dense, and less in
quantity. The skin of the thigh, being thus distended, forms large
folds, falling over the knee joint. The legs become likewise enlarged,
frequently engorged, and troubled with varicosities, more especially
towards the lower portion of the limb. Gradually the feet participate
in this engorgement.

This general view of the outward appearance of the body of a person
labouring under obesity, may give some idea of the disturbance which
an excessive amount of fat can produce when situated within the body.
On the outer surface it causes an extraordinary distension of the
integument, giving rise, as we have before said, to various diseases,
such as pimples, boils, eczema, prurigo, &c., which can only be cured
by a reduction of corpulence. In the interior of the organism this
same excess of fat causes displacement of the viscera, interferes with
the due performance of their functions (as we have already explained),
and leads to the sudden death of the patient, whilst occupying his
arm-chair rather than his bed, for he can rarely assume a recumbent

It has been said, moreover, that excessive corpulence modifies the
intellectual faculties, diminishes their power, and may even completely
annihilate them. The incessant desire for sleep, the somnolence with
which fat people are tormented, is sufficient proof of the correctness
of the assertion.

The experience of all medical men goes to shew that when persons of
obesity are attacked by any acute form of disease, they succumb more
easily than those possessing an ordinary _embonpoint_. Death usually
occurs in such cases unattended with great suffering. Destruction goes
on so quietly and imperceptibly, that the physician becomes aware of it
only when it is too late to grapple with it.

Excessive corpulence is promoted by want of sufficient exercise, riding
in a carriage, lying in bed too much, and the continued use of the
warm bath. Having been told by many females, as I have said before,
that their _embonpoint_ had commenced after giving birth to their
last child, which they had not suckled, and that they attributed the
development of this _embonpoint_ to their not having suckled the child,
it may be asked, can this be assigned as one of the causes of excessive
corpulence in females? I mention these facts without venturing at
present to give an opinion.

Some physicians, and many of the laity, think that repeated bleedings
tend to the development of fat. For my part, the fact is indisputable,
both theoretically and as the result of experience. Bleeding removes
a portion of the blood, which is flesh in a fluid state, having for
its object not only the nutrition of the several organs, but also the
stimulation of the heart's movements, and thus the maintenance of life.
Taking a little blood, is taking a little of that which maintains
life, and is therefore a weakening of every organ of the body. Areolar
tissue, which becomes more extensible in proportion as the body
becomes more feeble, must have its power of resistance diminished
by the bleeding, and more readily permit the deposition of adipose
matter. This affords an explanation of the fact stated by many of my
female patients, that their excessive corpulence had manifested itself
subsequent to repeated blood-lettings.

Bleeding encourages the development of fat in the lower animals,
as well as in the human species; a fact well understood by
cattle-breeders, who put it in practice in the case of cattle which
they wish to fatten. The only exception made by them to this rule, is
in reference to those animals which have a soft and yielding skin,
as more frequently happens with beasts of a red-and-white colour,
which are said to fatten readily. With this intention, agricultural
writers recommend the use of blood-letting. An article which appeared
in an agricultural journal recommends that every animal intended for
fattening should be bled twice, at an interval of a few days.

Some people think that exercise on horseback is apt to produce
corpulency, while others entertain a different opinion. The former
maintain that persons whose business requires them to be much on
horseback, are frequently fat; a remark which is made especially
in reference to cavalry officers, and which is quite true. But the
following explanation may be offered: A man on horseback undergoes
severe exercise; and if he possesses a strong constitution, and takes a
sufficient amount of food, this exercise will facilitate the digestive
function, and the volume of his body will be increased. But it is
necessary that the horseman should be of a very vigorous constitution.
In truth, few cavalry officers are corpulent, and these few are to
be met with among those who are somewhat advanced in life, and who
are by nature well adapted to the profession. The greater number of
cavalry soldiers, whether officers or privates, suffer much at first
from fatigue. The young men who join a cavalry regiment soon grow
thin, and, with but few exceptions, remain thin so long as they are
in the service; and indeed it has happened that both in the case of
officers and privates, in consequence of not being able to endure horse
exercise, they have been obliged to be transferred to the infantry.
It is therefore incorrect to regard this kind of bodily exercise as
favourable to the development of corpulence.

For the development of obesity, there must exist a certain
predisposition. We meet with many who do all in their power to grow
fat, and who still remain thin, because, no doubt, they possess some
peculiarity of organization which prevents the development of fat.

Obesity may be hereditary; that is to say, the father or the mother
may transmit to their children a peculiar formation, having a tendency
to make fat. From certain physiological conditions, we may recognize
at an early age a natural tendency on the part of some persons to
become corpulent. In the young of both sexes, where this predisposition
exists, the face is broad and short, the eyes round, and the nose
short and thick; the hands and feet are small, and there is a general
roundness of limb. When possessed of such an organization, obesity
may be warded off by a rational system of diet, to be indicated in the
following pages. But the immediate and producing cause of corpulence is
to be sought and discovered in the character of the food. The present
system is founded upon this principle. Medical authors assert that
food has a most important bearing in the production of corpulence.
They forbid the use of meat, and recommend watery vegetables, such as
spinage, sorrel, salad, fruit, &c., and for beverage water; and at the
same time they direct the patient to eat as little as possible. These
instructions, like too many others, are given because they are asked,
and that in every disease, curable or incurable, the physician is bound
to offer some advice. Medical men themselves put no faith in them,
since they pronounce obesity to be incurable.

Having devoted a great deal of attention to this enquiry, I have
arrived at the conclusion that it is not to be wondered at that obesity
should be incurable, because the very means which have been recommended
to overcome it, are exactly those best fitted to induce and maintain it.

I lay it down as an axiom, in opposition to the received opinion
of centuries, that a very substantial diet, such as meat, does not
develop fat, and that nothing is more capable of producing the latter
than aqueous vegetables and water.

It is a principle which at first sight may appear inadmissible.
Nevertheless, the consideration of a few physiological and chemical
facts, within the comprehension of everybody, will suffice to prove its

The most favourable physiological condition for the production of
fat, in man as in the lower animals, is a large extent of intestinal
absorbent surface, the absorbent vessels being proportional in number
to the amplitude of the intestinal surface. The intestines, however,
are conformable to the nature of the aliment. The intestines are
small in the lion, tiger and panther, because their food consists of
a small quantity of flesh. The ox, on the other hand, a herbivorous
animal, possesses an enormous paunch, to contain the large mass of
food, yielding but little nutritive matter; consequently the herbivora
must have a larger absorbent surface than the carnivora. The length of
the intestinal tract in herbivorous animals is equal to fifteen times
the length of the body; in the carnivora the length of the intestines
is about three times that of the body; while in the tiger, feeding
exclusively on blood, it equals only the length of the animal. In this
respect man holds an intermediate position, the intestines being equal
in length to about five or six times the height of the individual.
This provision of nature is in keeping with the character of his
food--partly animal, partly vegetable. It is at his option, however,
to modify this natural condition, by living wholly upon meat or wholly
upon vegetables. A person whose food is very substantial, but small in
quantity (as, for example, meat), does not possess the dilated stomach
and intestines of the vegetable feeder, and consequently has a less
absorbent surface than the latter. Among animals, we notice that the
carnivora have naturally but little fat, scarcely any belly, but an
enormous development of muscular power; whilst the herbivora are more
or less laden with fat. Among men, it may be noticed that the corpulent
shew a preference for vegetable and farinaceous food, and partake
largely of water, beer, &c.

If we examine this question from a chemical point of view, we obtain
the most satisfactory evidence that flesh must be productive of less
fat than vegetable matter. The composition of human fat in 100 parts is

  Carbon      79.000
  Hydrogen    15.416
  Oxygen       5.584
              ------  100.000

The principal constituents of fat, therefore, are carbon and hydrogen.
Again, chemistry teaches that all food not consisting of flesh, such
as vegetables, farinacea, sugars, &c., resemble fat, being chiefly
composed of carbon and hydrogen; and, still more, that fat exists,
already formed, in some vegetable substances, as oil of olives, oil of
nuts, and oleaginous seeds. If, therefore, we introduce into the system
substances rich in carbon and hydrogen, we must make fat as inevitably
as the bee makes honey from its elements contained in the flowers.

On the other hand, we learn also from chemistry, that one of the
principal constituents of meat is nitrogen, an element which does not
enter into the composition of fat. Food consisting chiefly of meat
must be less productive of fat than food mainly composed of carbon and
hydrogen, such as vegetables, &c.

Distinguished chemists have endeavoured to shew in what manner the
development of fat takes place in the animal economy. A paper was read
by me before the Academy of Sciences, at Paris, on the 15th December,
1851, from which the following extract is made:

       "Three different opinions are entertained by distinguished
       chemists, who have given attention to this subject. The
       first, that of Dumas, maintains that the fatty matter of the
       body is derived solely from substances analogous to fat in
       composition, which pre-exist in the food. The second opinion,
       that of Liebig, is to the effect that the formation of fat
       is due to a modification of those ternary compounds which
       constitute so large a proportion of the food of animals. The
       third opinion suggests that fat may arise in consequence of
       some special fermentation taking place in the stomach.

       "Numerous experiments have been made, in order to determine
       which of these opinions is correct; but it may be safely said
       that no satisfactory conclusion has been arrived at.

       "In the first place, the experiments have never been conducted
       under circumstances favourable to the formation of a correct
       opinion. It is obviously of the first importance, when
       conducting experiments of this nature, that the food should be
       supplied so as not to interfere with the tone of the general
       health, considered morally as well as physically. We can
       conceive that the deprivation of liberty, in the case of an
       animal usually in the enjoyment of freedom, may render the
       experiment of dubious import. Although man is omnivorous, it
       is impossible that any one can submit, for a great length of
       time, to live upon one kind of food only, without suffering a
       sense of loathing.

       "What inference can be drawn from those experiments, made
       for the purpose of ascertaining whether sugar is capable of
       producing fat, when they were made upon pigeons and doves,
       which were fed solely upon this substance; at one time being
       deprived altogether of water, and at another time allowing
       them as much as they chose to drink?

       "Chemists wished to know if butter could engender fat, and
       doves have been gorged with it, being deprived of all other
       food during the few days that the experiment lasted; at the
       end of which time they died, of course excessively lean; and
       the experimentalists thence concluded that butter does not
       produce fat. What an extraordinary idea, to feed a granivorous
       animal upon butter solely, in order to test the question
       referred to! This experiment forms the subject of a paper
       written by me, and inserted in the proceedings of the Academy
       of Sciences, for the year 1844.

       "Other experiments upon animals, conducted likewise by men of
       science, are less open to criticism than the one just referred
       to; yet it must be confessed that no safe inference could be
       drawn from them. I am about to submit a few established facts,
       which may throw some light upon the question as to the cause
       of the development of fat.

       "For several years past I have given much consideration to the
       reduction of corpulency in cases where it interfered with the
       comforts of life, and I can reckon by thousands those who have
       followed my instructions. I have established it as a fact,
       without a single exception, that it is always possible to
       diminish obesity, by living chiefly upon meat, and partaking
       only of a small quantity of other kinds of food. Make use of
       whatever medicine you please, it is impossible to obtain the
       same result in the case of a person partaking indiscriminately
       of everything which may be placed upon the table. There is
       yet another condition, without which success is impossible;
       that is, to absorb but little fluid, whether in the shape of
       soup or drink, or by means of the bath. A moist atmosphere is
       favourable to the development of fat: we increase in weight in
       wet weather.

       "I have thousands of cases on record, in support of my
       statement. Persons from all parts of the world, who have
       followed my teachings, have experienced a decrease of their

The paper upon this subject ended by saying, that according to my
opinion, fat might be assimilated by either of the three several
methods set forth in the beginning of the essay, one not forbidding the
action of the others. I begged to be acknowledged by the Academy as the
first who had established the fact that, in order to reduce corpulence
without interfering with the general health, it is necessary to live
chiefly upon meat, avoiding an excess of vegetable and aqueous food, or
of any of which the basis is carbon or hydrogen.

These chemical principles are founded upon facts--upon observation. As
I have said, carnivorous animals are never fat, because they feed upon
a substance rich in nitrogen--flesh; which flesh makes flesh, and very
little fat. They have no belly, because flesh, taken in small quantity,
suffices for one day, or twenty-four hours.

It has been objected that the carnivora do not always obtain food
when hungry, and that they are often obliged to chase their prey for
a long time before catching it. This is true; but on the other hand,
carnivorous animals, when domesticated and fed upon meat, are not more
fat, and have no belly. The celebrated traveller, Levaillant, in his
Travels in Africa, says that he has seen, in the southern part of the
continent, flocks of gazelles, which live in the interior, numbering
from ten to fifty thousand. These flocks are almost continually on
the move; they travel from north to south, and from south to north.
Those of the flock which are in advance, and in the enjoyment of a rich
pasturage, frequently come upon the borders of the settlements of Cape
Colony, and are fat; those composing the centre of the herd are less
fat; while those in the rear are extremely poor, and dying with hunger.
Being thus stayed in their course by the presence of man, they retrace
their steps; but those which composed the rear are now in advance, and
regain their fat, while those which were in advance become the rear,
and lose fat. Notwithstanding the vast numbers which daily perish,
their natural increase suffices to maintain the integrity of the herd.
In connexion with my subject I may state that these flocks are always
accompanied or followed by lions, leopards, panthers and hyenas, which
kill as many of them as they please for food, devour a part, and leave
the rest to the jackals and other small carnivorous animals, which
follow upon their steps. Now, these lions, panthers, leopards and
hyenas, which need make but the slightest exertion to find food when
hungry, are never fat.

It has been said, by way of objection to my system, that butchers are
generally fat, due to their living upon meat. Now, I have made some
enquiries in this matter, and have satisfied myself that butchers, as
a general thing, are not fond of meat, but live chiefly upon vegetable
food, and usually drink a great deal. It has been said also that their
good condition is due to the atmosphere (filled with animal miasm) in
which they live, a supposition which has yet to be proven. Again, it
has been said that hogs can be fattened upon horse-flesh. My reply is,
that they drink at the same time a large amount of water. And here I
may remark, that the lard of hogs thus fattened upon flesh is soft
and watery, and is considered by dealers to be of little value. It is
evidently not due to the flesh upon which these hogs are fed, that
their fat is soft and watery, but to the great amount of fluid they

On the other hand, those animals which are enormously fat, live
exclusively upon vegetables, and drink largely. The hippopotamus, for
example, so uncouth in form from its immense amount of fat, feeds
wholly upon vegetable matter--rice, millet, sugar-cane, &c. Naturalists
long entertained the opinion that this animal, living mostly in the
water, fed chiefly upon fish. It is now, however, well ascertained that
the hippopotamus never touches fish, and is wholly a vegetable feeder.

The walrus, which, according to Buffon, seems to afford the connecting
link between amphibious quadrupeds and the cetacea, is a veritable
mass of fat, and lives exclusively upon marine herbage. The walrus
of Kamschatka measures from twenty to twenty-three feet in length,
sixteen to eighteen feet in circumference, and weighs from six to eight
thousand pounds.

The following fact may be cited as a remarkable proof that the quantity
of fat in any animal is mainly dependent on the character of its food:
Among the whale tribe, those monsters in size, that of Greenland
(Balæna mysticetus of Linnæus) possesses the greatest amount of
blubber, and it feeds upon zoophytes, of which many resemble as much in
character the plant as the animal. The fin-backed whale (Balæna böops
of Linnæus), which does not feed upon mucilaginous matter, but upon
small fish, has a much thinner layer of blubber than the former. The
sperm whale or cachalot (Balæna physalus of Linnæus), which feeds on
mackerel, herrings, and northern salmon, although nearly as long as the
Greenland whale, is much thinner. The layer of blubber is not so thick
as in the fin-backed, and yields only ten or twelve tuns of oil; while
the Greenland whale yields fifty, sixty, and even eighty tuns.

Now, chemistry, as we have said, furnishes a rational explanation of
these facts. With the exception of flesh, all alimentary substances
(the mucilaginous, the gummy, the saccharine, the aqueous, &c.) consist
of carbon and hydrogen, and fat is composed of the same elements.
Success in the treatment of disease would be more frequent, if medical
practitioners would pay greater attention to the chemistry of the vital
functions; and the reason why certain articles of diet have a greater
tendency than others to the formation of fat, would, by the aid of the
exact science of chemistry, be rendered self-evident.

All medical writers agree that want of sufficient exercise--as by
lying too much in bed, riding in a carriage, &c.--is favourable to the
development of obesity. The explanation is simple. We are all cognizant
of the fact, that the body is sustained chiefly by means of food; but
we also know that the atmosphere by which we are surrounded, plays
an important part in the nourishment of the body. The atmosphere we
inspire contains oxygen gas, a portion of which is destined to revivify
the blood in its passage through the lungs; another portion we expel,
we expire, no longer pure, but in combination with carbon obtained
from the body, in the form of carbonic acid gas. In proportion as the
respiration is more active, a larger quantity of oxygen is taken into
the system, and more carbon in combination with oxygen is expelled as
carbonic acid gas. There is consequently a less amount of carbon left
in the system to form fat. The greater the activity of the animal,
the more frequent do the respirations become. Having said this, it is
readily understood why want of exercise, riding in a carriage, lying
too much in bed, tend to the development of fat; because, with this
want of activity, respiration is less frequent, and the oxygen combines
with a less amount of carbon, and a larger quantity is left to enter
into combination with the existing hydrogen, forming fat. Consequently
the mountaineer, breathing an atmosphere rich in oxygen, is generally
less prone to the formation of fat than the dweller in the valley.

The Bedouin Arab, owing to the activity of a nomadic life, is never
fat. Our peasantry are rarely over fat, unless they have acquired
wealth sufficient to relieve them from the necessity for labor. Animals
which are in constant motion, such as the roebuck and the deer,
although feeding upon substances rich in carbon and in hydrogen, have
usually but little fat.

Those birds which are continually on the wing are never very fat. On
the other hand, birds or animals leading an inactive life readily take
on fat. A means frequently resorted to, in order to fatten them, is to
feed them in a small enclosure. Some domestic animals are even deprived
of all power of motion in order to hasten their fattening.

Among orientals, where the men remain seated the greater part of the
day, and the women are obliged to stay in the house without ever going
out, frequent examples of obesity are to be met with.

Nuns in their cloistered convents, prisoners in jails often grow fat
in spite of their wretched food, because the air they breathe being
deficient in oxygen, withdraws but a small portion of the carbon from
the system, the remainder going to the formation of fat. It is when the
human body has attained its full growth, and especially in the decline
of life, that fat in excess begins to be developed. I am of opinion
that want of exercise is one of its principal causes. With increasing
age the step becomes more guarded, and a repugnance is felt for all
bodily exertion. In this way the quality of the air, and the quantity
of oxygen it contains have much to do with the formation of fat.

By virtue of that happy distribution and balance of forces to be met
with throughout the universe, the expired carbonic acid gas of men
and animals is destined to the nutrition of plants, which assimilate
the carbon and set free oxygen gas. Plants being thus chiefly composed
of carbon, are, when taken as food, rich in the chief constituent of
fat; and fat itself is frequently a vegetable production. Mutton fat
resembles that of the cacao bean, and human fat is similar to olive oil.

It is therefore clearly established that the immediate and direct
cause of the development of fat in the case of men and animals is to
be sought in the nature of the aliment, giving, at the same time due
weight to the several general conditions which have a tendency to favor
the development of obesity. All food which is not flesh--all food rich
in carbon and hydrogen must have a tendency to produce fat. Upon these
principles only can any rational treatment for the cure of obesity
satisfactorily rest.



It can scarcely be necessary that I should record all the several
methods which have been proposed and adopted for the reduction of
obesity; yet, lest I should be charged with ignorance, some mention
must be made of the several useless and contradictory opinions and
methods which have been adopted, frequently to the serious injury of
the general health of the patient.

Some ancient authors inform us of the means that were employed in
former times by slave dealers at Rome to render their merchandize fat
or lean, in accordance with the requirements of the market. But these
means, in our present state of society, are no longer available. I
shall briefly say that the ladies of Rome, in order to reduce the
size of their breasts, which, when largely developed, were considered
unsightly, were in the habit of using a poultice composed of Lemnian
clay, lime, sugar, parsley and white of egg. I have used this poultice
to arrest the secretion of milk after childbirth, and under its
influence the breasts have diminished in size to such an extent that it
was manifest a reduction of the fat surrounding the glands had taken
place. Instead of Lemnian earth, I substitute an argillaceous substance
possessing all its properties. This poultice is the only remedial
means worth recalling: all the others which are given are based upon
superstition or some vulgar error. Thus it was believed to be possible,
by means of a surgical operation, to remove with safety the fat _en
masse_ from the abdomen, in the case of persons labouring under
obesity. This belief has derived support from a story related by the
historian of a certain pacha named Schisman, who it is said always had
a surgeon accompanying him in his travels, whose duty it was to remove
the fat from his abdomen whenever it became troublesome.

In 1718, Rothonet, a Parisian surgeon, is said to have delivered a
well-known personage of that time of an enormous belly. After the
operation the person became small and active. Rothonet was soon
besieged on all sides by a crowd of people desirous of undergoing the
operation of delarding. Rothonet explained that the person upon whom
he had operated had been afflicted with a fatty hernia protruding from
the umbilicus, and covering the whole external surface of the abdomen;
that by removing this mass of fat he had restored the former agility of
the patient; but that he would never dare to open the abdominal walls
for the purpose of removing fat. Many people, however, believe to this
day that it is possible thus to remove fat.

Cases are recorded of individuals of excessive obesity, who, being
subject to the authority of an absolute master, have been submitted
to most rigorous treatment for the purpose of reducing their fat.
They have been shut up in a room, and fed upon an amount of food only
sufficient to sustain life, and consisting solely of dry bread and
water. Dry bread and water however, in sufficient quantity, and an
endurable captivity, are not infallible means of inducing leanness. A
foreign prince, still young, and subject to the will of his father,
has been submitted to this treatment for some length of time, in the
hope that his excessive fatty development might be arrested. But in
spite of violent exercise, and the use of medicinal means, the prince
weighs, at the present time, over three hundred and fifty pounds.
In the case of horse-jockeys requiring to reduce their weight to
the necessary standard, we may observe that, in order to accomplish
their object, they put on a large amount of extra clothing, and take
violent exercise (by running or otherwise) during several hours, and
afterwards, while bathed in perspiration, are submitted to violent
friction by means of a coarse cloth. The employment of such means is
not devoid of danger; but the fat lost is soon recovered if the general
health has not suffered impairment.

Drinking vinegar is a means unfortunately too frequently resorted to
for the reduction of corpulence. This acid destroys the mucous tufts
of the absorbents in the alimentary canal, and consequently only an
insufficient quantity of nutrient matter is introduced into the system,
thereby inducing a general wasting. When death does not result, the
patient is for a long time, and frequently ever afterwards, subject to
gastralgia, &c.

A lady once consulted me who, during a whole month, had taken every
morning, while fasting, a spoonful of citric acid with syrup. It had
not the effect of reducing her _embonpoint_, but had given rise to
painful sensations in the stomach, which lasted for several years. I am
sorry to say that I have known medical men, who, from their standing
in the profession, ought to have set an example of prudence, when
consulted in reference to the reduction of corpulence, have ventured
to prescribe the use of iodine, iodide of potassium, and even arsenic
in small doses. Patients whom I have seen, and who have followed these
prescriptions, have told me that they have been compelled to abandon
them before obtaining the desired effect, owing to the troublesome
consequences attending the use of these powerful medicinal agents. The
law takes cognizance of crime less serious than that committed by the
physician, who prescribes such poisons when not imperatively called for.

Many authors, both ancient and modern, and many physicians also,
recommend, in order to reduce obesity, that the patient should eat a
less amount by weight than the body loses. By such means a wasting of
all the organs of the body would be simultaneously effected; not only
fat, but muscle, nerve, tissue, blood--all must suffer.

At the same time these authors universally forbid the use of meat, and
permit only an exclusively vegetable diet. Any one, after reading the
preceding pages, is competent to judge how great must be the error
of these writers, who always end, however, by affirming obesity to
be incurable. Incurable, no doubt, it is, by such treatment. But to
diminish obesity, without affecting the general health, the patient
must feed chiefly upon meat. I say chiefly, because man, being
naturally disposed to partake of both animal and vegetable food,
cannot live exclusively upon meat without prejudice to his general
health. The use of a small quantity of vegetable matter will not
prevent the diminution of fat. At a future page the several alimentary
substances will be arranged from a chemical point of view, in the
order they truly occupy as reducing or inducing obesity. For the
present, it may be stated that among alimentary substances, exclusive
of meat, those containing the greatest amount of water, such as watery
vegetables, sweet fruits, &c., have an especial tendency to develop
fat. The result of my own observation, in a great number of cases, is
in perfect accordance with the chemical fact, viz., that the chief
constituents of fat are also constituents of water. So that although a
person should live exclusively upon meat, and at the same time drink
a great deal, he would not experience any perceptible reduction of
fat. This affords an explanation why many who eat very little, but
drink large quantities of water, beer, cider, brandy or wine, labour
under obesity. Whoever desires to avoid corpulence must therefore feed
chiefly upon meat, partaking very sparingly of any other kind of food,
and at the same time should drink but little.

Nor can it be supposed that, although obedient to the previous
directions, the vast mass of fat existing in the body of an obese
person will disappear in the course of a few hours. They who are
exceedingly anxious to get rid of it speedily, whether for appearance
sake, or because it is productive of inconvenience, infirmity or
ill-health, must make use, at the same time, of those medicinal agents
which help its removal. Among substances having an affinity for fat,
the alkalis hold a prominent position; and these, when administered
in the usual medicinal doses, are productive of no inconvenience, but
increase rather than lessen the appetite, and aid the removal of fat.
Soap pills have been in vogue for centuries, for the cure of portal
obstruction. Vichy water is also recommended. The free alkali contained
in the soap pills and in vichy water, is the active agent in such
cases. Many persons are known to have grown thin while using Vichy
water; and, on the other hand, many thin persons have resumed their
natural _embonpoint_ under its use. An emaciated patient, suffering
from liver disease, will regain his normal weight, on recovery from the
disease, whether using Vichy water or not.

Cullen, in his Elements of the Practice of Physic, mentions a Dr.
Fleming, who had sometimes succeeded in reducing obesity by the use of
soap pills; and the author himself recommends, for the same purpose,
abstinence, together with the use of alkalis, that is, to eat as little
as possible of the least nutritive food, such as vegetables, and to
drink water. The author states, as the result of his observation, that
fat persons must not be bled; that loss of blood only weakens the
system, and favors an increase of obesity. Another author speaks of the
value of alkaline baths in the treatment of the obese.

Under the head of "Obesity," in the Dictionary of Medicine and
Practical Surgery, we find the following:--"Our colleague, Dr.
Melier, has witnessed the speedy reduction of great obesity in a
lady, under the use of bicarbonate of soda and soda water, which had
been prescribed with another object in view. If this effect should
prove constant, we might be inclined to agree with him, that alkaline
substances are capable of inducing saponification of fat in the living
body, and that the resulting compound, being more soluble, is more
readily absorbed. Whatever may be the explanation, it would be well to
repeat the experiment, and we shall endeavour to do so upon the first

I am not aware that the experiment has been repeated; but if it has
been, the result has probably not proved satisfactory; because, for
its success, the patient taking alkalis should be fed chiefly upon
meat, with a small quantity of vegetables, and but little drink.
Failing these conditions, alkalis are powerless. Cases do occur, of
persons growing thin, who intentionally have done nothing to reduce
their fat. In the same way it might happen that while making use of
alkalis, without observing the precepts laid down, the fat might
disappear. Such a case would be exceptional, and extremely rare.

Alkalis alone are incompetent to cure a case of obesity: this is
capable of chemical demonstration. If a supply of fat, equal in
combining proportion with the alkali ingested, be supplied by means
of food to the body, the action of the alkali upon the previously
deposited fat constituting the obesity, must be null. For the speedy
reduction of obesity, therefore, the food must contain a less than
ordinary amount of the elements of fat, by making it to consist chiefly
of meat, and bringing about a reduction of the superabundant fat by
means of alkalis, which should be administered in every variety of
form, in order not to induce a sense of disgust on the part of the

While undergoing this course of treatment, the person should not be
called upon to make the slightest change in his ordinary habits, or
in the amount of his daily labour. His appetite, which ought to be
excellent, should be always satisfied; and while losing fat, he ought
to experience increase of muscular firmness and vigour. Such have been
the invariable effects produced in those patients under my immediate
care, as will be fully shewn in the cases about to be reported.

After ten or twelve days of this mode of treatment, and with the
help of alkalis, obesic patients experience a feeling of freedom
from oppression, and already a reduction of fat has become apparent.
This diminution continues; and by the end of the month, which is the
shortest period of treatment, the weight has been reduced to the extent
of ten pounds at least; but if the instructions have been rigidly
observed, thirty pounds or even more. And this course may be continued
for six months or longer, with marked improvement of the general



In the month of August, 1849, M. Guénaud, a master baker, still
residing in the Rue St. Martin, Paris, presented the following
appearance:--Age, twenty-eight years; height, four feet eleven inches.
His obesity was such that he was scarcely able to walk, and whenever
he attempted to do so, suffered from difficulty of breathing. When
standing for a short time, he experienced great pain in the region
of the kidneys. He was incapable of superintending the workshop and
attending the flour market, duties which devolved upon him as manager
of an extensive bakery. An unconquerable drowsiness overcame him the
moment he sat down, and rendered him unable to attend to his numerous
accounts. When in bed he was obliged to be propped up by a number of
pillows, in a semi-recumbent position; for if his head happened to be
too low, he suffered from vertigo, dizziness, &c. His countenance was
suffused, and the veins of the head, especially the temporal, were
more than usually distended. The slightest exercise was attended with
excessive perspiration. The cerebral circulation was so much impeded,
that he could not bear even the pressure of a hat; and asserted that
he would not dare to stoop, even were it to insure him a fortune. In
this distressing condition he sought the advice of a physician, under
whose directions he was repeatedly bled, and freely purged. He was
recommended to live upon the smallest quantity of food that nature
would permit, and to diet chiefly upon watery vegetables, such as
cabbage, turnips, salad, spinach, sorrel, &c., and only occasionally
to partake of a very small quantity of meat. He was also directed to
use active exercise, to work in the bake-house, and to take long walks.
But he found it impossible to follow the latter part of this advice, on
account of a feeling of impending suffocation, and severe pains in the
region of the kidneys. He was therefore recommended to take exercise
on horseback; but this even could not be borne, and in spite of every
effort his obesity was constantly on the increase. At last he could not
walk a quarter of a mile, and was obliged to confine himself to the
house, passing his time in a listless, somnolent condition, entirely
deprived of all mental and bodily energy. His mother, who lived in the
neighbourhood of Paris, having seen the advertisement of my book upon
Obesity, and thinking of the melancholy condition of her son, procured
a copy and read it. She thereupon brought her son in a carriage to
my office. Guénaud was quite out of breath from having to ascend one
pair of stairs; he seated himself upon a sofa in my room, and soon
fell asleep. Occasionally he would wake up, and take some part in the
conversation. The mother and her son went home, and on the following
day Guénaud began to carry out the directions he had received from me;
and at the end of thirteen days he was able to walk from the Porte St.
Martin to La Chapelle, where his mother resided, delighted at having
recovered the use of his legs. What astonished him most was that he
had been able to perform the journey on foot, without once taking his
hat off. The latter remark may appear trivial; it shows, however,
the great inconvenience he had been wont to suffer from the violent
perspiration hitherto induced by the slightest exercise. By the end of
the month Guénaud had reduced his weight from one hundred and ninety to
one hundred and seventy-four pounds, and his circumference round the
belly from fifty to forty-three inches. He was recovering his activity,
both of mind and body, and his respiration was already considerably
improved. The treatment was continued two months longer, and at the
end of the three months his circumference was reduced fourteen inches,
having lost forty pounds of fat. His muscular powers were now much
increased. Guénaud had a very short neck; the two masses of fat, which
made his cheeks appear continuous with his chest, have disappeared.
The line of the lower jaw is now perfectly distinct, and without the
slightest wrinkle. Instead of his former aged appearance, induced by
obesity, his figure is now youthful, his countenance intelligent and
sparkling. Before commencing my system of treatment, the patient was in
continual danger from threatening head symptoms. It was generally said,
even by the medical men under whose care he had placed himself, that
he suffered from excess of blood; yet he has not lost a single drop
during the whole course of treatment, and is now free from somnolency,
giddiness and headache. The veins of the head are no longer turgid, nor
does he suffer from excessive perspiration of the head.

I am satisfied that this man, at the present time, has more blood
in his system than he had when labouring under obesity; but the
circulation being now free, all inconvenience has disappeared.

It is unnecessary to add that, owing to the lungs being no longer
oppressed on all sides by a superabundance of fat, their movement is
unimpeded, air finds easy access, and the difficulty of breathing,
with sense of impending suffocation, no longer exist. Guénaud can now
sleep in the ordinary recumbent position. Men of great corpulence, when
walking, experience severe pain in the kidneys, and this arises from
the enormous mass of fat which surrounds these organs, inducing by its
weight a dragging sensation. Guénaud, having lost his big belly, is no
longer troubled with this uneasiness when walking.

With respect to this patient, and in all the other cases which have
come under my care, it may be well to remark that the muscular system
has recovered its tone, and that the muscles are harder than they were
before treatment; and I can safely say, without fear of contradiction,
that every person who has been submitted to my system for the cure of
obesity, is convinced that his flesh, his muscle, has increased both in
firmness and in size.

I have had men under my care weighing two hundred and fifty pounds.
Upon the occasion of their first visit, having felt their limbs, I have
said, "I can diminish your weight by fifty pounds; but these enormous
muscles will be increased rather than diminished in size. You must not
expect a reduction of more than fifty pounds; but fifty pounds less
of fat, distributed among organs overloaded with it, will be highly
beneficial to health."

Guénaud is far from being thin, but he is strong and muscular, and
has the physical and moral energy of a robust young man. His enormous
size had rendered him conspicuous in that part of the city where he
carried on his business as a baker; but when he had become reduced
to the normal size of other men, the change produced considerable
sensation, and excited curiosity as to the cause. He has done justice
to the treatment which has made him once more a man. I will also do him
the justice to say that he has honestly carried out my instructions.
A beefsteak or a couple of cutlets, with a very small allowance of
vegetables, together with half a cup of coffee, constituted his
breakfast. Dinner consisted of meat and a very small quantity of
vegetables. From being a great water-drinker, he had come down to an
allowance of a bottle or a bottle and a half of liquid in a day. When
thirsty he drank but little at a time; and between meals, used to
gargle his mouth with fresh cold water.

A lady, residing in the town of Montereau, wrote to me in the early
part of September, 1849. She was twenty-six years of age, and weighed
one hundred and seventy pounds. Her corpulence was increasing to such
an extent that she would soon be unable to attend to her household
duties. She wished to know if my system of treatment would interfere
with her general health, and whether it would prevent her pursuing her
usual and indispensable daily avocations. On receiving the necessary
explanations, she immediately placed herself under my care, and upon
the 23rd of the same month, she informed me that her weight was already
considerably less, but that her size remained about the same. A letter
of the 12th October following states that she has lost fifteen pounds
weight, and that her size is materially diminished. The treatment was
continued for some time longer, and never caused the least interference
with the discharge of her domestic affairs.

In the course of the following year I received a communication from
Widow Rollin, of Versailles, stating that she is the only support
of a large family, which necessitates great exertions on her part:
that a daily increasing corpulence with most troublesome abdominal
enlargement gives rise to the most serious anxiety as to the future.
Provided no interruption in her daily duties be required she would
cheerfully submit to my treatment. She wrote after seventeen days
trial of the system:--"My corpulence is perceptibly diminished, and I
am no longer afflicted with drowsiness after meals. I follow rigidly
the instructions you have given me, and each day feel more deeply
indebted to you. At the end of the month I shall do myself the honour
of calling upon you, as it is my wish to continue under treatment until
entirely freed from my encumbrance. I can now walk with ease, which was
for a long time an impossibility. The pain in the loins has likewise

Mr. G. Chauvin, a lawyer, living at Castellane, in the department of
the Lower Alps, owing to his increasing corpulency, was subject to
great inconvenience when speaking in court. He adopted my mode of
treatment, and in one of his letters, dated November, 1851, he says:
"I have followed your directions, which have effected the result I
was led to expect. My family have expressed their astonishment at the
sudden and extraordinary diminution of size. But it has been effected
without the slightest bad symptom: the bodily functions have been duly
discharged, and the treatment has been unattended with inconvenience or
danger, &c."

Madame d'Aries, a resident of Bilbao, in Spain, wife of the French
Consul wrote to me on the 12th of May last:--"Following your
directions, I have lost weight. Since my last two confinements the
abdomen had remained unduly large: it is now much smaller. I feel
lighter. I have always been able to walk without experiencing much
fatigue. It was a great trouble, however, to move from my seat. A
peculiar inward feeling, which was a source of great annoyance, has
become almost imperceptible. I can go up stairs without bringing on
shortness of breath, and the benefit derived is as evident to myself as
it is visible to others."

On the 12th of April, 1851, I received a letter from Mr. Roberts, of
Tours, in which he says:--"I am twenty-seven years of age, and weigh
two hundred and six pounds. I fear that my great corpulence, which is
constantly on the increase, may prove exceedingly troublesome. Having
read your book, I am resolved to give your method of treatment a fair
trial. You will oblige by giving me an explicit and detailed statement
as to what is necessary to be done, and by sending from Paris such
medicines as may be necessary."

On the 22nd of the same month Mr. Roberts wrote as follows:--"I
weighed two hundred and six pounds, and now weigh only one hundred
and ninety-two. I measured forty-three inches in circumference, and
now only thirty-one inches. I am delighted with the success which has
attended your system of treatment, and am happy to be able to inform
you of it. Accept my sincere thanks, for I am indebted to you for a
condition which I despaired of ever again attaining. Yours truly,


The following letter has been also received:

                                  "SAINT DIÉ, 24th Nov., 1850.

       "SIR,--Having read your book on the treatment of obesity, I
       wish to ask if you will undertake my case, although living at
       a distance of three hundred miles from Paris. I am fifty years
       of age, and possessed of a vigorous constitution. Since I have
       retired from business, now ten years ago, I have steadily
       increased in corpulence; my present weight being one hundred
       and eighty-nine pounds. I am troubled with an affection of
       the heart, shortness of breath, and my legs swell, especially
       when not taking much exercise on foot. I am not fond of
       walking, since it induces great fatigue. My belly has become
       much enlarged, and I am greatly troubled with drowsiness.
       For breakfast I use coffee with milk, although I am not fond
       of it, but I find that it prevents headache, to which I am
       otherwise subject, &c. You will oblige me by sending the
       necessary instructions, if you can take charge of my case, by
       the bearer of this letter, together with such medicines as you
       may direct.

                                          "Yours, &c.      K."

In answer to Madame K., I sent her the medicine, together with the
necessary information. On the 25th of February I received a letter,
from which the following extracts are made:--"Your directions have been
scrupulously observed for the past fifteen days. I take a daily walk in
the mountains, and to-day was weighed. I have lost but four pounds: too
small a reduction I fear; but perhaps due partly to my temperament. The
medicine requires to be taken in larger doses, I think. Nevertheless I
am well satisfied with the result thus far, being now free from those
troublesome palpitations of the heart to which I have been hitherto

The 9th of April following this lady wrote: "My legs do not swell as
they used to do, and the palpitations have ceased. I am delighted with
this good result of your method of treatment."

Nothing more was heard of Madame K. until the month of August in the
following year. She then writes that in accordance with the advice of
the medical men of Saint Dié, she, together with her family, went to
take the waters of Plombières. That on her return her legs were again
swollen, and that she suffered from palpitation of the heart, which
gave rise to a choking sensation. She was desirous of again undergoing
the anti-obesic treatment. On the 30th of September following she wrote
that she had followed my instructions during the last three weeks,
and had lost only four pounds in weight; but added, I have obtained
a much more valuable result, and that is, the almost total release
from my troublesome heart palpitation. I have not since heard from
this lady, but I have no doubt that she has been once more cured of
her palpitation, and that she is no longer troubled with swellings
of the feet and legs. The loss of fat in this case has been attended
with freedom from palpitation of the heart, from shortness of breath,
and from swelling of the lower extremities. What explanation can be
given as to the cause of these results? As to her ailments, did they
arise from an excess of blood in the system, or was she suffering from
cardiac disease? Physicians thought so and bled her, administered
sedatives and alteratives, and restricted the diet of the patient.
Still they did not cure her. On the other hand I recommended her food
should consist of meat principally; that she should be allowed strong
coffee and wine; which, together with the employment of alkaline
remedies, reduced her fat and effected a cure. The following season
she goes, together with her family, to the springs, and returns thence
afflicted in the same way as before, and again my mode of treatment
produces the same result.

It is manifest that this heart affection, this shortness of breath,
depended upon obstruction to the heart's action, and not upon any
excess of blood in the system, since I abstracted no blood, but on
the contrary, administered stimulants, together with the use of full
meat diet. The swollen limbs arose no doubt from a partial portal
obstruction, and ceased when the reduction of fat was effected. It
may be urged that the patient was better, or even cured, of heart
palpitation, before she had lost much in weight. She had lost, however,
four pounds; and four pounds of fat occupy a large space. The fat in
a living body is fluid and very light. A pound, therefore, is a large
quantity. When a person begins to lose his corpulency, the reduction
takes place first in the interior of the body, and consequently there
is a great improvement during the first six or eight days in the
general health of obese patients, when treated in accordance with the
principles now advocated.

An English lady wrote to me from Dieppe, on the 15th of July, 1852. The
following is an extract from her letter:--"Arrived here only a short
time ago. I at once made trial of your plan for the cure of obesity,
and have already experienced considerable improvement. I have not
yet had an opportunity of being weighed, and therefore cannot assert
positively that my actual weight is less than it was, but I certainly
feel lighter, and my hands are neither so red nor so fat as formerly."

Madame Meuriot, an actress, then staying at Chatellerault, addressed me
under date the 21st of August, 1851. Her letter is exceedingly lengthy
and full of minutiæ, that would be improper to lay before the public.
But she informs me that her weight in the course of a single year had
increased from one hundred and twenty to one hundred and seventy-five
pounds. In order to retain her theatrical engagements, she determined
to use every possible means to overcome this troublesome _embonpoint_.
She took her food in quantity barely sufficient to sustain nature; made
use of sea biscuit instead of bread that she might eat less. For some
time past she has been taking daily forty drops of the tincture of
iodine, under the direction of a physician, but without appreciable
benefit. Every portion of the body was loaded with fat, and the lower
part of the legs were swollen. Having met with my book and dreading
the effects of the iodine upon her general health, she was anxious
that I should advise her. I did so; and sent the medicine, together
with necessary directions from Paris to Perpignau, where she was then
staying. I received a letter from her on the 9th of October following,
in which she says:--"I am happy to inform you that your treatment has
been attended with the most satisfactory results. My legs are no longer
swollen. I walk with greater ease than formerly, and my breathing is no
longer oppressed. I am unable to say how much my weight has decreased,
not having ready access to platform scales; but my gowns tell me that
my size is less than it was, yet not as small as could be desired." In
conclusion she wished to know whether she might continue the treatment
a month or two longer, and if I thought so, to please send her the
requisite medicine. I did so, and heard nothing further from Madame
de Meuriot until the month of August in the following year. She was
then on her way to fulfil an engagement at Lille, and called to see
me. She expressed great delight in having got rid of her troublesome
_embonpoint_, and said that she had not been afflicted with swelling of
the legs since placing herself under my treatment. "But something has
occurred which I did not in the least expect: since my corpulency has
left me, I have become _enceinte_."

A letter from this lady, dated Lille, the 13th October last, begins
thus:--"Since I last had the pleasure of seeing you, on the occasion of
my departure from Paris, I have become fully satisfied that I am in the
family way, and have been so for the past eight months." My advice was
requested on some points having reference to her then condition.

The preceding facts tend to shew that reduced corpulency is favourable
to conception.

Towards the latter end of 1850, the wife of Dr. Pecquet, of Paris,
purchased my work on Obesity. Having read it, she spoke to her husband
about it, who said that, like most medical men, he was persuaded that
the only way to reduce corpulency, is to eat less than the system

Madame Pecquet, then about sixty years of age, had long been troubled
with excessive corpulency, and weighed two hundred and fifty pounds.
She had, in consequence of this affliction, passed the greater part of
the last eighteen years either in her arm-chair or in bed. According
to some of the most celebrated physicians of Paris, and also of her
husband, her disease at one time was said to be pulmonary catarrh--at
another time, disease of the heart--and again, something else; till at
length Madame Pecquet had no rest, day or night.

If she attempted to go to sleep in the horizontal position, she was
immediately troubled with a rush of blood to the head, accompanied
with the most distressing hallucinations, which utterly prevented her
from sleeping. She was unable to take exercise on foot, even when her
ailments allowed her any respite, owing to the excessive pain she
experienced in the region of the kidneys, and the abundant perspiration
of the head, which a walk of even a few steps was sure to induce. It
was consequently impossible for her to go out, unless in a carriage.
Those only who are unable to enjoy this pleasure, know how great a
privation it is not to be able to take a walk on a fine day, and how
wearisome it is to be compelled to make use of a carriage in order to
enjoy the advantages of fresh air, or to move from place to place.

Madame Pecquet was so situated, and many a time she has
said,--"Eighteen long years have I been in this condition! Eighteen
years of suffering and misery, in spite of every medical aid which
has been bestowed upon me!" Under these circumstances, we can readily
understand how anxiously she must have sought a means of cure. One day,
without the knowledge of her husband, she took a carriage, and called
to consult me.

Those who believe as I do, that an excessive development of fat may
induce and sustain a generally diseased condition of body, will readily
admit that the diminution of excessive obesity is the only rational
means of cure in such a case.

Impressed with this idea, Madame Pecquet called upon me, and placed
herself under my care. I prescribed some medicine, which she took
without the knowledge of her husband, who, although eating at the same
table, did not perceive that she partook of less vegetables and ate a
larger quantity of meat than usual. Having continued the treatment four
months, Madame Pecquet said to her husband,--"I have been following
the anti-obesic treatment, and weigh at the present time one hundred
pounds less than I did before commencing it. Formerly I was confined
to my arm-chair, in consequence of catarrh or something else. I could
not walk fifty yards without stopping to take breath; and now I can go
out every day if I please, when the weather is fine. Night, formerly
so wearisome, is now a season of delightful and refreshing repose; and,
in fine, I have recovered my health, after eighteen years of continued

I again met this lady last year, and found her in the enjoyment of
perfect health. She had not regained her _embonpoint_, but was in all
respects perfectly happy, and gratefully ascribed her recovery to my
system of treatment. On the recommendation of this patient, Madame de
M., in the month of June, 1852, requested me to call upon her. She was
between thirty and thirty-five years of age, and during the last eight
years she had become enormously fat. She was ailing, and had been under
treatment for almost every variety of disease. Most of the medical men
whom she had consulted, owing to the pain she complained of, ascribed
her trouble either to organic pulmonary lesion, to bronchial affection,
or to disease of the heart. She had tried every means of cure. Had been
under the care of many of the principal physicians to the hospitals of
Paris, and also of professors of the faculty. Deriving no advantage
from these, she had consulted homoeopathic practitioners, and had
been treated by them unavailingly. In her despair, she had sought the
advice of a female clairvoyant; and in order that she might obtain
every possible benefit from the treatment, had taken her into her own
house--but her sad condition was in no wise ameliorated.

Possessed of a naturally active and energetic temperament, she was
nevertheless compelled to remain seated in an arm-chair, yet could
not lean back in it, owing to a sense of suffocation which such a
position was sure to induce. When weary of this erect position, the
only relief she could obtain was by leaning upon her left elbow,
resting on the knee of the same side. If she attempted to recline upon
the right side, she was subject to fits of coughing and suffocation.
Her days were passed in this position: at night she was obliged to
sit upright, without any support to her back; and when overcome with
weariness, would fall forward upon the left elbow, the only support
she could endure. Finally, however, in consequence of the great
and continued pressure of the weight of the body, the elbow became
inflamed, an extensive sore formed upon it, and a pad for the elbow
became necessary. She had scarcely any appetite, and had long since
given up the use of meat. She could walk a little about her apartment,
and although her sister had lived for the last six years in the house
on the opposite side of the street, she had not been able to visit
her. Madame de M. although by no means tall, weighed between one
hundred and eighty and one hundred and ninety pounds. Under percussion
the chest proved resonant throughout, and air entered freely the whole
extent of the lungs. By the aid of the stethoscope a râle was heard in
both lungs. Beneath both clavicles there existed scars, the result of
blisters and cauteries. And the whole surface of the chest and the pit
of the stomach were covered with the marks of leech bites. There were
no febrile symptoms. Complexion blonde, with a remarkably fair skin
and large blue eyes, which seemed never to have known pain. Under such
circumstances no organic lesion either of the lungs, the bronchi, or
of the heart could be suspected: and I was satisfied that the great
disturbance of health in the case of this lady arose from excessive
obesity. Having placed herself under my treatment, she experienced
relief the first week, and, at the end of a fortnight, Madame de M. had
perceptibly grown thinner. One morning, when calling to see her, I was
told that she had gone for a ride to the Bois de Boulogne, and that she
had been out also the day before, and was able to get in and out of the
carriage without assistance. She continued to lose her _embonpoint_
and her health became thoroughly re-established. She was able to lie
down in bed, and upon either side. At the end of the month she visited
friends whom she had not called upon for the last six or eight years,
and six weeks or two months after commencing my treatment, she danced
repeatedly at a ball given by her sister upon the occasion of her
recovery. Until then she had not worn corsets for the last six years.

It was not until the month of October following, that I again had
occasion to see Madame de M. Not feeling well, she sent for me. She had
caught cold the day before, when returning late in the evening from
the country, and was slightly feverish. She was, however, quite well
again in a day or two. The last two years she has enjoyed excellent
health, although, like most other ladies, she is occasionally subject
to trifling nervous attacks. In the enjoyment of health and riches, she
leads the fashionable life of a gay young lady. How forcibly does her
present condition contrast with the previous eight long years, passed
in weariness and suffering!

In the month of June, 1852, Mr. Lucian Eté, chief operator in the
chemical works of Mr. Christofle, silverer and gilder, Rue de Bondy,
sought my advice in reference to his corpulence, which gave him much
anxiety, as he feared that he would be obliged to give up work. The
sole support of a numerous family, it required his utmost efforts to
go through the duties of the day. Obliged to be constantly in motion,
and frequently to go up and down stairs, he suffered great pain in
the kidneys, and was often so much out of breath that it was almost
impossible for him to speak when giving his orders or explanations.
His head was constantly bathed in perspiration; and if he attempted to
sit down for a moment, he was immediately seized with an irresistible
drowsiness. He had been repeatedly bled and purged, but without any
salutary effect.

Lucian Eté followed my plan of treatment for two months. During the
first month he lost from fifteen to twenty pounds of fat. I do not
recollect how much he lost in the second month, but at the end of this
time he was so far reduced that further treatment was unnecessary. Let
it be observed, that during the two months he was under treatment, he
was not absent a single day from his duties in the factory.

I heard from Lucien d'Eté last year. He was then in the enjoyment of
perfect health, and his corpulence had not returned.

Mons. Desrenaudes, living in the Rue du Faubourg St. Honoré, became
very corpulent in a comparatively short time. This was a source of
great inconvenience to him, from the fact, that being much devoted to
the pleasures of the turf, his increased weight unfitted him for the
saddle. During the year 1852, he followed my system of treatment for
two months, and obtained most satisfactory results, and, as in every
other case, without necessitating the slightest interference with his
daily avocations.

Madame d'Hervilly, residing in garrison at Elboeuf, with her husband,
a captain in the 2nd regiment of the line, having met with my treatise
on Obesity, came to Paris in order to consult me. After her return
to Elboeuf, she adopted my system of treatment, and a fortnight
afterwards wrote as follows:

"6th July.--Your predictions have been verified. I am now in excellent
health, and no longer suffer from the great oppression to which I
was formerly subject during hot weather. Your medicine, according to
my experience, is everything that can be desired; but I have been a
sufferer for the last thirty years, and it will take some time to
effect a perfect cure. I have not perceptibly diminished in size, but
am sensible of a peculiar freedom of motion of the internal organs. My
husband also intends shortly to put your system in practice."

On the 11th August, this lady wrote again, to say that she was still
pursuing the treatment; that she had not weighed herself, but was then
several inches less in circumference than before.

The treatment was continued, and she became thin. Her husband
subsequently adopted the system for a month, and derived great
advantage from it. I cannot say how much his weight was diminished;
but his great desire was to get rid of an unsightly cushion of fat,
situated upon the back of his neck. I learn from Madame d'Hervilly that
this unmilitary-like appendage has disappeared.

On the 7th August, 1852, M. Alcide Desbouillons wrote to me from Brest,
to the effect that his corpulence was a source of great inconvenience;
that his duties required him to be much on horseback, and consequently
in hot weather he suffered greatly from fatigue. He weighed two
hundred pounds, and measured forty-nine inches in circumference. On
the 2nd September, after twenty days' trial of my system, and, as he
says, perhaps not as rigorously carried out as it should have been,
he weighed himself again, and obtained the following result: Weight,
one hundred and eighty-nine pounds: circumference, forty-five inches.
Twenty days after this he weighed one hundred and eighty-seven pounds,
and measured forty-three inches in circumference. This was but a slight
difference; yet M. Desbouillons, after the first few days of treatment,
could walk with less difficulty, was more active, and was no longer
bathed in perspiration. In his last letter he says, "I am continuing
your plan of treatment, and expect to find a notable amelioration both
in size and weight. The effects produced by your medicine have been
in perfect accord with what you had led me to expect. The experiment
appears so far conclusive, and I trust that my case will prove
thoroughly demonstrative."

If free from prejudice, and willing to acknowledge the truth of that
which is manifest, the cases we have just cited ought to satisfy
any candid enquirer that obesity may be entirely overcome without
prejudicially affecting the general health. At first sight, this would
appear undeniable; yet medical writers, who have hitherto insisted that
a meat diet is conducive to the development of fat, and that vegetables
have an opposite tendency, will not frankly acknowledge their error.

Physicians who have derived their knowledge from books, and from the
lectures of their teachers, must find it difficult to change their
opinions in reference to obesity. With the public, when any one is
told that the imbibition of large quantities of water is productive
of fat, and that feeding upon animal food induces leanness, a similar
degree of doubt is excited as when Galileo asserted that the sun did
not revolve around the earth. On the publication of the first edition
of my treatise upon Obesity, I experienced a degree of impatience,
and even irritation, in view of the systematic opposition which a
self-evident truth received at the hands of the medical profession. At
the present time, however, I calmly recognize that the same happened
in the case of every attempted innovation. I call to mind how Galileo
endangered his very existence. Vesalius, the founder of anatomy,
was saved from the stake only by the interference of his sovereign.
Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation, was compelled to seek royal
protection from the attacks of the medical men of his day. Peysonnel,
a physician of Marseilles, and a great naturalist, devoted himself
to the study of corals and madrepores. In 1727, he laid before the
Academy of Science a monogram, proving to demonstration that corals and
madrepores are structures due to animal life; that what Dioscorides,
Pliny, Linnæus, Lamarck, Tournefort, &c. &c. had thought to be flowers,
are in truth animals; and that these living creatures constructed
and augmented their abodes; the Academy, like most learned bodies,
admitted as truth only that which it taught, and consequently paid no
attention to this memoir, which, nevertheless, was destined to produce
an entire change in a large department of natural history. When, long
afterwards, Trembley published his discoveries on fresh-water polypes,
the studies of Dr. Peysonnel in this direction were remembered, and
naturalists were forced to admit that the physician of Marseilles
was right in maintaining that what had been taken for flowers are
in reality animals. His claim as the discoverer of a fact which was
destined to effect an important revolution in an extensive department
of natural history, has since then not been disputed, nor could it be.
All men, and men of science especially, require time before yielding to
evidence, when that evidence is in opposition to preconceived views,
and interferes with personal interest.

The system I have introduced progresses, and, as some might say, works
wonders, and effects cures in France, in England, in Belgium, in
Austria, in Russia, in Turkey, in Africa; and in almost every instance,
my patients are persons occupying prominent positions--magistrates,
state authorities, general officers, or men of wealth, who have
enjoyed the advantages of a good education, and are able to judge of
and appreciate the merits of my mode of treatment. The judgment of
such a tribunal should convince the incredulous. This is no matter of
faith. I lay claim to the possession of no revelation, which is not
to be explained, or which is to rest solely upon my assertion. I do
not say that my discovery is a mystery, and that it is your part to
believe in it. Under such circumstances, disbelief would not astonish
me, notwithstanding all the cases of cure brought forward; but when
the nutrition of the body is explained in accordance with the laws of
nature, when it is shewn to be in conformity with the well understood
laws of chemistry, and that facts are cited, in reference both to man
and the lower animals, in support of these phenomena, I confess that
opposition to this system excites my astonishment. Physicians cannot by
any possibility advance sufficient reasons against a system which, when
once explained, must appear self-evident to every one.

Another fact in support of this system must be submitted to my readers.
What would a medical man say if I should venture the following piece
of advice: You have a horse you wish to dispose of. He is a good
beast, and travels well, but he is thin. If he were fatter, he would
look better, and you could sell him to greater advantage. Make him
fat; and if, in order to do this, I advised him to give his horse a
double allowance of oats, he would only laugh at me. He would say; why,
everybody knows that if you wish to fatten a horse, the best way is to
give him, in addition to an abundance of hay, bran, mixed with plenty
of water, or in other words, bran mashes; or the horse may be sent to
pasture, to live upon grass, which is composed principally of water and
a small proportion of ligneous matter. Under such circumstances, the
horse will make fat, and his form will become more round and plump;
but if, when he was thin, he was able to travel thirty miles without
sweating and without fatigue, now that he is fat he will scarcely be
able to go five without being covered with sweat, and without shewing
manifest signs of fatigue. When thin, he was a good horse; but being
fat, he has lost his best qualities, which can be restored only by
feeding him again upon less bulky food, with a due allowance of oats,
and a small proportion of water.

I have been informed that the gentleman in charge of the stud of King
Charles X. availed himself of the knowledge of this fact, and allowed
only half the usual quantity of water to the horses under his charge,
and that this plan was attended with the most satisfactory results, the
horses being thereby able to endure a greater amount of fatigue than
under a full allowance of water.

To return to the cases of cure. Madam C., a landed proprietor, living
in the Rue de la Concorde, at Paris, went to take the waters in
Germany, in the year 1851. On her return, she made trial of my system,
on account of excessive corpulence. Meeting with the usual success,
she thought it would be of great advantage to a young lady, a friend,
whom she had left behind her at the watering place, and who was then
in bad health. This young person, about twenty-three years of age, was
very fat, and irregular in her menstrual periods. She was of lymphatic
temperament, very pale, and rarely partook of meat: her ordinary food
consisted of vegetables, sweetmeats, cakes and sweet fruits; water was
her principal beverage. At the pressing instance of Madam C., Miss
C. visited Paris, in order to be under my care. After following my
directions for a fortnight, her health was much improved. Her parents
then came to Paris, and I continued in attendance on Miss C. for three
months. At the expiration of this time, she returned with her parents
to Brussels. She had lost much of her fat, and had become regular. She
ate meat principally, both at breakfast and dinner, and drank wine.
I may lay claim, in the case of this young lady, to have effected a
complete change of temperament. With but trifling menstrual flow, and
great pallor, she was gradually progressing to a state of obesity,
which would have proved entirely destructive to health, which would
have ended in a total suppression of the menses, and ultimately in
death. But now, having overcome her obesity, the menstrual flow has
become normal in quantity, the digestive powers have resumed their
functional activity, so that she can partake of meat and wine, and in
every respect her constitution is fully restored. Should she marry,
she will in all probability have a family, which would have been very
doubtful had she married while in the previous obese condition; and
if she have children, her accouchements will be comparatively free of
danger, and her sufferings much less; for it is well known that very
corpulent females have more difficult labours than those of ordinary
_embonpoint_; while the offspring of the latter are at the same time
healthier. The same rule applies in the case of the human female as
with other mammalia; when fat, conception is of more rare occurrence;
and when they do conceive, they are very liable to miscarry. When,
however, they go to the full period of gestation, the progeny of a
very fat mother is almost always lean, and possesses little vitality.
Moreover, the milk of a very fat mother is neither so abundant nor so
nutritious as that of a moderately thin mother.

M. Albert C. was an officer in the 4th Hussar regiment. He became so
corpulent that he wished to exchange into the gendarmery. In 1852,
he was appointed lieutenant in this branch of the service. His new
position, however, still required him to be much on horseback; and
when required to travel any distance, and to trot for a short time, he
suffered much from difficulty of breathing, and complained of a sense
of oppression in the region of the heart. It seemed as though the heart
had not sufficient space for the execution of its movements. Feeling
naturally anxious about his health, he wrote to me desiring to place
himself under my care. Impressed with the idea that his trouble was
consequent upon his excessive corpulence, I gave him advice, which he
followed for several weeks; but in consequence of a severe wound in
the leg, which obliged him to keep his bed, and undergo a surgical
operation, he left off my plan of treatment. Some time afterwards,
he fell sick; he was bled, leeched, &c., and partially recovered
his health; but the heart affection became exceedingly troublesome,
especially when on horseback. His physician advised him to return to
Paris. On his arrival, he resumed my system of treatment, and after a
fortnight experienced great relief; his appetite had improved, he slept
well, and the pain which he had suffered in the region of the heart
disappeared. When he came to Paris, he was scarcely able to walk, but
at the end of fifteen days he could walk all over the city. His health
became thoroughly re-established on the loss of his obesity, and he was
enabled to resume his military duties.

On the 18th of February, 1853, I received a letter from Mr. L.,
superintendent of a royal factory at Annecy, in Savoy, in which he
says: "You were kind enough to send on the 20th of April, 1851,
medicine sufficient for two months of anti-obesic treatment. Your
directions were scrupulously attended to during the first month, and I
experienced considerable benefit--in fact I lost nine pounds in weight,
and felt more active and much more fit for business. Circumstances
prevented my continuing the treatment during the second month and the
medicine has been lost. After the lapse of two years I am anxious to
resume your plan of treatment, &c." It is now a year since Mr. L.
wrote to me, when I sent him all that was requisite. I have not since
heard from him by letter, but I know that the second treatment was
equally satisfactory. Owing to his favorable report of my system, a
notary of Annecy, during the course of last summer, sought my advice. I
am also indebted to him for other patients.

In the month of June, 1853, Madame de L., of Amiens, consulted me on
her own behalf, and also on that of her husband--both labouring under
obesity. I gave her the necessary directions, together with medicine
sufficient to last two months. She wrote to me on the 2nd of July in
the following terms:

       "SIR,--In fulfilment of my promise, I send you a statement
       of the result of your treatment. My husband has lost eleven
       pounds in weight, and enjoys excellent health. As for myself,
       owing to severe indisposition after my return home from Paris,
       I have only adopted your treatment during the last eight days.
       Please inform me whether the medicine you furnished to me a
       month ago is too old to be of any service.

                                      "I have the honour, &c.,
                                                           "F. L."

I answered this letter, and no doubt the lady has derived as much
benefit as her husband from the treatment.

                                "NISMES (GARD) 4th Aug., 1853.

       "SIR,--I have read with much interest the second edition of
       your precepts, based upon chemistry, for the diminution of
       obesity, and have carefully examined every statement you
       have so clearly set forth. The result is, that I am anxious
       to follow your advice, and to place myself under your course
       of treatment. I am a doctor of philosophy and professor in
       the Imperial Lyceum at Nismes. During my whole life I have
       struggled against this terrible obesity, but almost always in
       vain. Nevertheless I have succeeded upon two occasions: the
       first, about twenty years ago, by travelling on foot for three
       months among the forests and mountains of the north of Europe;
       the second time, about twelve years ago, by dint of continued
       and intense intellectual labour. Owing to the sedentary nature
       of my duties, obesity has since returned in a more threatening
       manner, and is no doubt the exciting cause of many ailments
       to which I am now subject, such as accumulation of mucus
       in the air passages, giving rise to cough, more especially
       troublesome because I am obliged to talk during the greater
       part of the day; cold feet, with swelling of the legs and
       ankles, &c., so that I am no longer able to perform the duties
       upon which my daily bread depends. My medical attendant can do
       nothing for me. He has prescribed purgatives and a vegetable
       diet, without any good result. I have taken thousands of
       Morrison's pills, and am worse rather than better, and now my
       mind is made up to make a trial of your plan of treatment, in
       full confidence that a cure may yet be accomplished.

                                              "DOCTOR HALBERG,
                     "Professor at the Imperial Lyceum of Nismes."

On the 8th of June Dr. Halberg wrote:

       "I find myself infinitely better, my breathing is easy, and I
       am considerably reduced in size. My great desire is that the
       swelling in my legs may wholly disappear.

                                                "DR. HALBERG."

Towards the latter end of 1851, Madame Wimy, from the town of Marle,
came to consult me in reference to her husband, who was labouring under
obesity to such a degree as to be unable to attend to his business. I
gave her the necessary advice, together with some medicine. On the 19th
of December Madame Wimy told me by letter that her husband had already
much improved, that his breathing was easier, he was more capable of
exertion, and that his corpulence had notably diminished. This lady
again wrote to me in the following year, requesting a further supply
of medicine. She said:--"My husband, before commencing your treatment,
weighed two hundred and seventy pounds: he now weighs only two hundred,
and hopes to weigh still less. You are no doubt in the frequent receipt
of letters seeking advice, for we have many inquiries for your address."

In truth the case of M. Wimy has brought me a great many patients.
Anxious to know whether he still continued my plan of treatment, and
wishing to introduce a statement of his case in this the third edition
of my work, I wrote to M. Wimy on the 16th of October last and received
the following reply:

                                      "MARLE, 19th Oct., 1853.

       "SIR,--In your letter of the 16th, you requested me to give
       a somewhat detailed statement of my case. I commenced the
       treatment under your directions, the latter part of 1851, and
       continued it during the early part of 1852. My weight was two
       hundred and seventy pounds, and I measured sixty-one inches in
       circumference. I walked with great difficulty--suffered much
       pain in the kidneys--my legs were swollen. I had a constant
       cough, and was much troubled with drowsiness. Immediately
       after adopting your system, my fat began to disappear, my
       appetite improved, and, after a few months, my weight was
       reduced to one hundred and sixty pounds, and my circumference
       to thirty-two inches. My health is now excellent. Being
       landlord of the Golden Lion Hotel, at Marle, where the stages
       put up, my recovery is known to a great many; and travellers
       who stopped at my house two years ago, when I was labouring
       under obesity, on seeing me at present, and noticing the
       wonderful change which has taken place, invariably ask by what
       means it has been effected.

       "It always affords me great pleasure to acknowledge that my
       cure is due to your system of treatment.

                            "I have the honour to be, &c.,

                                                  "JULES WIMY.

  "Golden Lion Hotel,
          Marle, Aisne."

A person who visited Marle about four months ago, and who had not seen
M. Wimy since the great change had been effected in his appearance,
was much astonished, and made inquiries respecting the cure. Some time
afterwards, this person met, at Orleans, a wealthy gentleman, about
forty years of age, suffering from obesity, and told him what he had
witnessed at Marle; recommending him at the same time to visit Paris,
in order that he might have the advice of the doctor who had freed Wimy
from his excessive fat. This gentleman wrote to Marle, before coming to
Paris, and received a satisfactory answer.

He called to consult with me, saying that he wished to place himself
under my care, provided that it would not interfere with his business
or with his usual habits. He is postmaster at Orleans, and, previous to
the building of the railroad, had a great deal of business to attend
to. Having many more horses than necessary for his business at Orleans,
he has opened a livery stable in Paris. He is consequently obliged
to attend all the fairs and markets, in order to purchase horses and
provender for his two establishments,--the one at Paris and the other
at Orleans, and is almost constantly travelling between these two
cities, and therefore leads a life of great activity. He weighs two
hundred and twenty-two pounds, and wishes to lose fifty pounds of fat,
but he cannot afford to lose a day from his business.

My reply to Mr. M. was, that so far from my treatment demanding any
cessation from work, it would rather give him strength to carry it on.
He began the treatment ten weeks since, and has already lost between
twenty-eight and thirty pounds of fat; and, as I had promised, without
causing him the loss of a single day.

It is said, that in order to be understood and believed, it is
necessary to repeat the same thing over and over again. But all things
must have an end; and all the cases which I might yet report, would
still end in diminution of obesity. It may be said, however, that,
like most medical writers, I report only favourable cases, and conceal
those which are unfavourable. My answer is, that I have never treated
a single case in which a favourable result has not been obtained,
provided the patient has observed my directions for even eight days;
and I am satisfied that if any one could be found to say that he has
not been benefited, that it would be because he has not been willing to
carry out the treatment for even eight days. It has no doubt frequently
happened that a patient has consulted me, and has then followed my
directions for two, three, or even four days, and then, for some cause,
has given them up: under these circumstances it might be said that no
benefit has been derived.

Many such cases have occurred. In one instance, a wealthy man, a
gold-beater by trade, living in Paris, sought my advice. He followed my
system for several weeks, without success. One day I said to him, "I
can only explain your want of success by attributing it to excessive
drinking. You live upon meat principally, it is true; but how much
liquid do you imbibe daily?" His answer was,--"I cannot abstain from
drinking when thirsty, and my thirst is frequent. I spend the whole
day in the factory, among fifteen or twenty workmen, and the heat is
necessarily great, as the nature of our manufacture demands it, and I
am therefore obliged to drink a great deal." I consequently recommended
him to abstain from further trial of a system which, under these
circumstances, could not possibly be of any benefit.

We meet with people who make, or seem to make, a resolution to live
according to a certain plan, for eight or ten days, and who, like
spoiled children, forget the very next day the resolution they had
made. I have met with many such cases. One would scarcely believe that
a lady, reduced to despair on account of her obesity, and threatening
to commit suicide unless relieved of her _embonpoint_, could promise
that she would obey my instructions to live chiefly upon a meat diet,
and to abstain from inordinate quantities of fluid, yet the very next
day would resume her customary mode of living;--breakfasting upon eggs,
preserves, and two or three cups of sweetened tea; and dine upon rich
pastry and sweetmeats, accompanied with a full allowance of champagne.
I could not have believed it possible had I not witnessed it myself.

Men generally carry out my directions more faithfully than women, being
firmer and more persevering in their resolves.

I am almost angry at times with this want of perseverance in persons
who boast that they have carried out my treatment without success. It
would be an easy matter to shew that the want of success in such cases
is entirely their own fault.

A young lady of one of the most illustrious families of France, and
married to a wealthy foreign nobleman, consulted me in the month of
May, 1853, in reference to her corpulence. She told me that her cousin,
the Duchess of X., had derived great benefit from my treatment; and
from what she had witnessed in her case, she was induced to place
herself under my care. She promised to commence my system on the
following day.

A few days afterwards I saw her. She told me she had forgotten to
take her medicine the day before. In subsequent visits, she confessed
that she had not taken any medicine, either because she had been up
very late the previous evening and had laid in bed late that morning,
or that she had been spending a day or two in the country; or that,
having been out for an early ride, she had forgotten all about it.
On the occasion of my last visit, she told me that she was going for
some time to her country-seat, and from thence intended to visit a
watering-place. The Baroness did not follow my treatment for three days
consecutively, and consequently lost nothing of her _embonpoint_. Under
such circumstances, want of success ought surely not to be attributed
to inefficacy of the treatment.

A very corpulent professor adopted my system for eight days, and lost
three pounds and a half in weight. Being relieved at the same time
from a sense of oppression which had continually troubled him, he was
delighted, and spoke of the happy results to many of his acquaintances.
Unfortunately at this time he received from the country a present of a
large basket of grapes, and being very partial to them, neglected my
instructions, and partook of them inordinately as long as they lasted.
The consequence is, that the professor is as fat as ever, although he
had followed my plan of treatment for eight days. Now whose fault is
this? Nevertheless, his acquaintances, to whom he had spoken of being
under my care, will attribute the failure to me. I shall see him again,
no doubt, some of these days, when in danger of suffocation.

The reader who has perused the preceding cases of cure, may say that
I have omitted to speak of obesity accompanied with skin disease, and
in my introduction mention has been made of its frequency. In truth,
many such cases have been met with; but skin disease, in my opinion,
is of such a nature that it is better not to give a hint even of the
parties in whom it has been met with and cured at the same time with
co-existing corpulence.

My method of reducing obesity being thus frankly explained, is perhaps
likely to lose its value in the eyes of many, owing to its extreme
simplicity. M. Desbouillons, of Brest, a patient whom I successfully
treated, wrote to me on the 15th August, 1853:--"On reading your
treatise a second time, I cannot but express my astonishment that the
medical faculty should so long have failed to discover the means which
you now so successfully employ for the cure of obesity."

Having accomplished the object I had in view, it matters not whether
it be the result of little study or of long and deep enquiry into
the secrets of animated nature; my satisfaction consists in having
destroyed those false and prejudicial doctrines which had existed for
ages in the writings and teachings of philosophers, and in having
demonstrated a truth destined to render important services to our
common humanity.



It is to be borne in mind, that in dividing alimentary matter into two
kinds--one fitted to develop fat, and the other having an opposite
tendency--my object is merely to suit the indispensable requirements
of my plan of treatment. Nor is the conclusion to be drawn, that in
order to diminish corpulence, an exclusive meat diet is absolutely
necessary. Man is omnivorous; that is to say, he partakes of everything
entering into the composition of ordinary alimentation; but, for the
purposes of my system, azotized substances should constitute, though
not exclusively, his principal food.

Large quantities both of animal and vegetable substances compose the
ordinary diet of man. According to some philosophers, man should live
on flesh only; while others maintain that man is by nature a vegetable
feeder. Most naturalists, however, are agreed that the human species
is omnivorous; that is to say, can live both upon vegetable and
animal matter. A certain proof, in my opinion, that such is the case,
is to be found in the fact that man is provided with the two kinds of
teeth, the one appertaining especially to carnivorous, and the other to
herbivorous animals.

It is remarkable that man, in his present state of civilization, does
not instinctively recognize the kind of food which is beneficial or
prejudicial to his well-being. Experience alone teaches him what is
good or bad. With the lower animals it is otherwise; they have the
power to discern that which is suitable for food. The colt and the kid
know how to select, among the varied herbage, the particular grasses
which are suitable to their organization. Domesticated animals, having
but an insufficiency of food, do sometimes partake of noxious plants.
It may be that man, in consequence of his civilization, has lost that
instinct possessed by the lower animals, and in blind confidence
partakes of everything which is served to him in the shape of food; and
this view derives support from the fact, that savages, and people but
partially civilized, refuse to eat anything they are unacquainted with,
no matter how temptingly it may be prepared.

The uneducated peasantry of France, at this day, will not taste food
to which they are unaccustomed, or if they do, it is only with great

It is matter of daily experience, that man can simultaneously feed upon
both vegetable and animal matter, and can also live when restricted to
one of these alone; such restriction, however, being better borne under
the varied conditions of age, season and climate.

From these considerations it follows that, for the accomplishment of a
given purpose, man has the privilege of selecting certain alimentary
substances, and of refusing many others; the health of the individual,
who may thus submit to the diet of his choice, being in no wise
affected thereby.

Bearing in mind the well established principles of physiology and
chemistry, together with the precepts set forth in the preceding pages,
we may be safely guided in the selection of such alimentary substances
as will conduce to the fixity of a certain condition of _embonpoint_,
although having a tendency to redundancy; or which, on the other hand,
will insure a diminution of obesity. Such results can be obtained by
paying attention to the following remarks:

That kind of meat known as game is very nutritious, occupies but small
space, and consequently only moderately distends the alimentary canal.
It contains but a small amount of carbon, relatively to the other
compounds, and therefore should be used as much as possible: such as
venison, hare, the warren rabbit, woodcock, snipe, partridge, quail,
plover, wild duck, &c.

The fluid portion of all ragouts should be avoided by those who dread
corpulence, and game should therefore be roasted rather than stewed.
The same may be said of butcher's meat, such as surloin of beef,
beefsteak, veal cutlet, mutton chop, fresh pork, leg of mutton, &c.
Gelatinous dishes, such as calves' feet and tripe, should be avoided.
Poultry, when roasted, is not contra-indicated.

It is a matter of observation, that those races which live chiefly upon
fish are gross and dull, pale and lymphatic, and less courageous than
such as live upon flesh. A fish diet is consequently favourable to the
development of fat, and the usual accompaniment of butter sauce is also
productive of a like result.

The anti-obesic treatment, therefore, requires that fish should be
partaken of sparingly; still it has been remarked that patients, while
undergoing treatment, who eat principally of meat, with a very small
amount of fish, do nevertheless succeed in the accomplishment of the
object they have in view. The most nutritious fish are turbot, trout,
sole, salmon, perch, pike, tench and carp. On the other hand, shell
fish, such as oysters, lobsters, crabs and shrimps, have a tendency to
impede the formation of fat.

Vegetables, such as lettuce, chicory, sorel, artichokes, spinach, green
pease, beans, cabbage, celery, and all such as are used by way of
salad, are not very nutritive, but contain much watery and mucilaginous
matter, favourable to the development of corpulency: the same may be
said of carrots, turnips, potatoes, rice, beet-root, maccaroni and
vermicelli bread; all kinds of cakes, pastry and biscuits, which are
made of wheaten flour, are decidedly contra-indicated, as are also
eggs, cream, cheese and butter.

In reference to chocolate, much difference of opinion has hitherto
existed as to its nutritious properties; but we know by experience that
it is easy of digestion, and eminently suited to such as are subject
to great mental exertion. Some dietists have held that chocolate has
a tendency to prevent any augmentation of corpulency. When made with
water, it is decidedly preferable to coffee made with milk, the latter
being productive of fat. Milk, by virtue of its composition, combines
all the elements which are fitted for the development and nutrition of
the body; casein containing nitrogen, a fatty matter (butter), and a
saccharine substance (sugar of milk).

Chemistry reveals the remarkable fact, that the composition of casein
or the cheesy portion of milk, is identical with that of the fibrin
and albumen of the blood. Under this aspect, therefore, milk is very

The sugar and butter which exist in milk, have no analogy with flesh;
according to analysis, they are composed of carbon and the elements
of water. When, therefore, we partake of milk, we obtain in one and
the same substance all the elements which are necessary for the growth
and nutrition of the body, and such is the case in infant life. Since,
however, both carbon and hydrogen, in very large proportion, enter into
the composition of milk, it is advisable, whenever there is a manifest
tendency to corpulence, that the use of it as an article of diet should
be avoided. Infants are usually fat, owing to the elements of adipose
matter forming so large a proportion of their food, whether that
consist of milk alone, or in combination with starchy or farinaceous
and saccharine substances.


With few exceptions, the corpulent, both male and female, drink a great
deal with their meals; and I am more and more convinced, by daily
experience, that the large amount of fluid thus imbibed has powerfully
contributed to produce their present condition. It may be said that it
is constitutional with them to require so much drink. I grant that many
persons are in the habit of drinking a great deal more than others, and
even that they are constitutionally so inclined; but I cannot allow
that they are compelled to drink as much as they do. Habit exercises
a powerful influence over all our actions; and I have no doubt that,
notwithstanding the existence of a natural predisposition to drink a
great deal at meal time, the inclination might be held in check, by
not yielding too easily to the desire. Many people, without thinking,
increase and stimulate their thirst by making use of highly seasoned
dishes; it would be well that they should exercise caution in this
respect. Even when using a moderate amount of beverage, a selection as
to kind is necessary. Beer and cider being especially rich in aqueous
and mucilaginous matter, are by virtue of these elements particularly
prone to the production of corpulence. All kinds of drink, when taken
in excess, act rather as depressants than stimulants of the nervous
centres, and a want of physical and mental activity, alike predisposes
to obesity.

Alcoholic drinks of every kind tend to the development of fat, owing
to the large amount of the carbonaceous element they contain. Men who
use brandy in excess are frequently so puffy and soft that you can
scarcely discover the presence of muscular tissue beneath the skin.
When blood is abstracted from such persons, it is found to be thin,
and to contain a less amount of the most important of the sanguineous
elements. We must not deceive ourselves; fat is not to be taken always
as an evidence of strength, but, on the contrary, should be regarded
as indicative of want of tone and of vital power, as in the case of
the aged, who are frequently corpulent though infirm; young chlorotic
females; persons deprived of a due supply of fresh air; and such as
make use of an excessive amount of alcoholic drink. With respect to the
last, it may be said, perhaps, that some are to be met with who, far
from being corpulent, are excessively thin, in consequence of drinking
large quantities of brandy; and such is indeed sometimes the case,
but it is due to the fact that some essential organ of the body is
suffering under the pernicious influence. And although the person may
have been, at a former period, fat and lusty, the body finally becomes
wearied with this continued excess, the stomach is diseased, nutrition
is impeded or wholly suspended, and a complete destruction of the vital
organism results.

It will scarcely be believed, yet it is nevertheless true, that females
can bear these excesses for a longer period than men, and that when
they do unfortunately yield to them, they indulge to even a greater

Observation and experience fully corroborate the assertion. Among a
great number of cases that could be cited, one must suffice. A young
lady, a creole, living in Paris, was in the habit of taking daily a
pint of brandy, without its producing any disturbance of her faculties,
and, it might be almost said, without committing any excess. When
she took a larger quantity,--which indeed was often the case,--she
became loquacious and troublesome to her attendants: complained of
headache and hallucinations, which deprived her of sleep, and said
that she dreaded an attack of apoplexy. During four or five years of
professional attendance upon her, I have been witness to several
of these fits of excess. She rarely or ever walked, but made use of
her carriage, rose late, and seldom partook of meat unless strongly
seasoned with red pepper. She became excessively obese under this
system of living, and when I lost sight of her she was an utter
deformity. Her complexion, however, was still good, and I could
attribute her obesity only to her extreme intemperance.

Water is the natural beverage of man; but being no longer in a state
of nature, that which was at first destined to assuage his thirst, is
not found to be in accordance with his changed habit,--his altered mode
of life consequent upon civilization. To the water a small quantity
of wine may be advantageously added, producing a tonic and slightly
stimulating drink, suitable to such stomachs as may stand in need of it
as an adjunct to digestion.

Pure wine is not suitable for ordinary beverage, but will rather excite
thirst than allay it, and at the same time may induce irritation, or
even inflammation of the stomach. Those only who use a great deal of
exercise in the open air can tolerate pure wine with impunity.

Many of the white wines produce a diuretic effect, and are less apt to
induce corpulence than the red wines.

Champagne is certainly most agreeable to the palate, and on account of
its stimulating effect, even when taken in small quantity, is much in
vogue; yet it is not suited to such as have a tendency to make fat. A
young lady under my care, who was enormously fat, acknowledged that
she lived exclusively on pastry and sweetmeats, and drank nothing but
champagne. A change both of food and beverage effected a speedy cure.
In some cases this wine gives rise to indigestion, owing to the large
amount of free carbonic acid gas which it contains, acting injuriously
upon the nerves which are distributed to the stomach.

A strong infusion of tea is one of those beverages having a tendency to
oppose the formation of fat; it is nevertheless nutritious, inasmuch
as it prevents the disintegration of tissue. Moreover, its action on
the nervous system is exhilarating. On account of these properties it
is much used in England by all classes. A weak infusion of tea, with
a superabundance of milk and sugar, is, on the other hand, highly
conducive to the formation of fat, and therefore should be avoided.

The beneficial effects of tea and coffee are due to substances
heretofore named "_theine_" and "_caffeine_," according to the source
whence they were obtained. These substances are now known to be
identical, although derived from plants of entirely different families.
An infusion of coffee produces effects similar to those induced by tea.
If weak, it is favourable to the development of corpulence; but if
strong, it acts as a powerful stimulant upon the nervous system, and
assists digestion. A very strong infusion of coffee, more particularly
when taken upon an empty stomach, is powerfully anti-obesic in its

It has been alleged that coffee must be nutritious, because labourers
are enabled to support life upon a small amount of solid food when
supplied with an abundance of coffee. Now the fact is, that coffee has
all the properties of tea, and, like it, prevents waste of tissue,
thereby economizing food to the utmost, and enabling the labourer to do
a large amount of bodily work with a comparatively slight expenditure
of the organized tissues of the living body.


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