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Title: Letter on Corpulence - Addressed to the Public
Author: Banting, William
Language: English
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  Addressed to the Public.




This letter is respectfully dedicated to the Public simply and entirely
from an earnest desire to confer a benefit on my fellow creatures.

                                                                   W. B.


Of all the parasites that affect humanity I do not know of, nor can
I imagine any more distressing than that of Obesity, and having just
emerged from a very long probation in this affliction, I am desirous of
circulating my humble knowledge and experience for the benefit of my
fellow man, with an earnest hope it may lead to the same comfort and
happiness I now feel under the extraordinary change--which might almost
be termed miraculous had it not been accomplished by the most simple
common sense means.

Obesity seems to me very little understood or properly appreciated
by the faculty and the public generally, or the former would long
ere this have hit upon the cause for so lamentable a disease, and
applied effective remedies, whilst the latter would have spared their
injudicious indulgence in remarks and sneers, frequently painful
in society, and which, even on the strongest mind, have an unhappy
tendency; but I sincerely trust this humble effort at exposition may
lead to a more perfect ventilation of the subject and a better feeling
for the afflicted.

It would afford me infinite pleasure and satisfaction to name the
author of my redemption from this calamity, as he is the only one that
I have been able to find (and my search has not been sparing) who seems
thoroughly up in the question; but such publicity might be construed
improperly, and I have, therefore, only to offer my personal experience
as to the stepping-stone to public investigation, and to proceed with
my narrative of facts, earnestly hoping the reader will patiently
peruse and thoughtfully consider it, with forbearance for any fault of
style or diction, and for any seeming presumption in publishing it.

I have felt some difficulty in deciding on the proper and best course
of action. At one time I thought the Editor of the _Lancet_ would
kindly publish a letter from me on the subject, but further reflection
led me to doubt whether an insignificant individual would be noticed
without some special introduction. In the April number of the _Cornhill
Magazine_ I read with much interest an article on the subject--defining
tolerably well the effects, but offering no tangible remedy, or even
positive solution of the problem--“What is the Cause of Obesity?” I was
pleased with the article as a whole, but objected to some portions,
and had prepared a letter to the Editor of that Magazine offering my
experience on the subject, but it again struck me that an unknown
individual like myself would have but little prospect of notice; so I
finally resolved to publish and circulate this Pamphlet, with no other
reason, motive, or expectation than an earnest desire to help those
who happen to be afflicted as I was, for that corpulence is remediable
I am well convinced, and shall be delighted if I can induce others to
think so. The object I have in view impels me to enter into minute
particulars as well as general observations, and to revert to bygone
years, in order to show that I have spared no pains nor expense to
accomplish the great end of stopping and curing obesity.

I am now nearly 66 years of age, about 5 feet 5 inches in stature,
and, in August last (1862), weighed 202 lbs., which I think it right
to name, because the article in the _Cornhill Magazine_ presumes that
a certain stature and age should bear, ordinarily, a certain weight,
and I am quite of that opinion. I now weigh 167 lbs., showing a
diminution of something like 1 lb. per week since August, and having
now very nearly attained the happy medium, I have perfect confidence
that a few more weeks will fully accomplish the object for which I
have labored for the last thirty years, in vain, until it pleased
Almighty Providence to direct me into the right and proper channel--the
“tram-way,” so to speak--of happy, comfortable existence.

Few men have led a more active life--bodily or mentally--from a
constitutional anxiety for regularity, precision, and order, during
fifty years’ business career, from which I have now retired, so
that my corpulence and subsequent obesity was not through neglect
of necessary bodily activity, nor from excessive eating, drinking,
or self-indulgence of any kind, except that I partook of the simple
aliments of bread, milk, butter, beer, sugar, and potatoes more freely
than my aged nature required, and hence, as I believe, the generation
of the parasite, detrimental to comfort if not really to health.

I will not presume to descant on the bodily structural tissues, so
fully canvassed in the _Cornhill Magazine_, nor how they are supported
and renovated, having no mind or power to enter into these questions,
which properly belong to the wise heads of the Faculty. None of my
family on the side of either parent had any tendency to corpulence,
and from my earliest years I had an inexpressible dread of such a
calamity, so, when I was between thirty and forty years of age, finding
a tendency to it creeping upon me, I consulted an eminent surgeon, now
long deceased--a kind personal friend--who recommended increased bodily
exertion before my ordinary daily labors began, and thought rowing an
excellent plan. I had the command of a good, heavy, safe boat, lived
near the river, and adopted it for a couple of hours in the early
morning. It is true I gained muscular vigor, but with it a prodigious
appetite, which I was compelled to indulge, and consequently increased
in weight, until my kind old friend advised me to forsake the exercise.

He soon afterwards died, and, as the tendency to corpulence remained,
I consulted other high orthodox authorities (_never any inferior
adviser_), but all in vain. I have tried sea air and bathing in various
localities, with much walking exercise; taken gallons of physic and
liquor potasssæ, advisedly and abundantly; riding on horseback; the
waters and climate of Leamington many times, as well as those of
Cheltenham and Harrogate frequently; have lived upon sixpence a day,
so to speak, and earned it, if bodily labor may be so construed;
and have spared no trouble nor expense in consultations with the
best authorities in the land, giving each and all a fair time for
experiment, without any permanent remedy, as the evil still gradually

I am under obligations to most of those advisers for the pains and
interest they took in my case; but only to one for an effectual remedy.

When a corpulent man eats, drinks and sleeps well, has no pain to
complain of and no particular organic disease, the judgment of
able men seems paralyzed,--for I have been generally informed that
corpulence is one of the natural results of increasing years; indeed
one of the ablest authorities as a physician in the land told me he
had gained 1 lb. in weight every year since he attained manhood,
and was not surprised at my condition, but advised more bodily
exercise--vapor-baths, and shampooing, in addition to the medicine
given. Yet the evil still increased, and, like the parasite of
barnacles on a ship, if it did not destroy the structure it obstructed
its fair, comfortable progress in the path of life.

I have been in dock, perhaps, twenty times in as many years, for the
reduction of this disease, and with little good effect--none lasting.
Any one so afflicted is often subject to public remark, and though in
conscience he may care little about it, I am confident no man laboring
under obesity can be quite insensible to the sneers and remarks of
the cruel and injudicious in public assemblies, public vehicles,
or the ordinary street traffic; nor to the annoyance of finding no
adequate space in a public assembly if he should seek amusement or need
refreshment, and therefore he naturally keeps away as much as possible
from places where he is likely to be made the object of the taunts and
remarks of others. I am as regardless of public remark as most men, but
I have felt these difficulties and therefore avoided such circumscribed
accommodation and notice, and by that means have been deprived of many
advantages to health and comfort.

Although no very great size or weight, still I could not stoop to
tie my shoe, so to speak, nor attend to the little offices humanity
requires without considerable pain and difficulty, which only the
corpulent can understand; I have been compelled to go down stairs
slowly backwards, to save the jar of increased weight upon the ankle
and knee joints, and been obliged to puff and blow with every slight
exertion, particularly that of going up stairs. I have spared no
pains to remedy this by low living (_moderation and light food_ was
generally prescribed, but I had no direct bill of fare to know what
was really intended), and that, consequently, brought the system into
a low impoverished state, without decreasing corpulence, caused many
obnoxious boils, to appear, and two rather formidable carbuncles, for
which I was ably operated upon _and fed into increased obesity_.

At this juncture (about three years back) Turkish baths became the
fashion, and I was advised to adopt them as a remedy. With the first
few I found immense benefit in power and elasticity for walking
exercise; so, believing I had found the “philosopher’s stone,” pursued
them three times a week till I had taken fifty, then less frequently
(as I began to fancy, with some reason, that so many weakened my
constitution) till I had taken ninety, but never succeeded in losing
more than 6 lbs. weight during the whole course, and I gave up the plan
as worthless; though I have full belief in their cleansing properties,
and their value in colds, rheumatism, and many other ailments.

I then fancied increased obesity materially affected a slight
umbilical rupture, if it did not cause it, and that another bodily
ailment to which I had been subject was also augmented. This led me
to other medical advisers, to whom I am also indebted for much kind
consideration, though, unfortunately, they failed in relieving me.
At last, finding my sight failing and my hearing greatly impaired, I
consulted, in August last, an eminent aural surgeon, who made light of
the case, looked into my ears, sponged them internally, and blistered
the outside, without the slightest benefit, neither inquiring into
any of my bodily ailments, which he probably thought unnecessary, nor
affording me even time to name them.

I was not at all satisfied, but on the contrary was in a worse plight
than when I went to him; however, he soon after left town for his
annual holiday, which proved the greatest possible blessing to me,
because it compelled me to seek other assistance, and happily, I found
the right man, who unhesitatingly said he believed my ailments were
caused principally by corpulence, and prescribed a certain diet--no
medicine, beyond a morning cordial as a corrective--with immense effect
and advantage both to my hearing and the decrease of my corpulency.

For the sake of argument and illustration I will presume that certain
articles of ordinary diet, however beneficial in youth, are prejudicial
in advanced life, like beans to a horse, whose common, ordinary food
is hay and corn. It may be useful food occasionally, under peculiar
circumstances, but detrimental as a constancy. I will, therefore, adopt
the analogy, and call such food human beans. The items from which I
was advised to abstain as much as possible were:--Bread, butter, milk,
sugar, beer, and potatoes, which had been the main (and, I thought,
innocent) elements of my existence, or, at all events, they had for
many years been adopted freely. These, said my excellent adviser,
contain starch and saccharine matter, tending to create fat, and should
be avoided altogether. At the first blush it seemed to me that I had
little left to live upon, but my kind friend soon showed me there was
ample, and I was only too happy to give the plan a fair trial, and,
within a very few days, found immense benefit from it. It may better
elucidate the dietary plan if I describe generally what I have sanction
to take, and that man must be an extraordinary person who would desire
a better table:--

  For breakfast, I take four or five ounces of beef, mutton, kidneys,
    broiled fish, bacon, or cold meat of any kind except pork; a large
    cup of tea (without milk or sugar), a little biscuit, or one ounce
    of dry toast.

  For dinner, five or six ounces of any fish except salmon, any meat
    except pork, any vegetable except potato, one ounce of dry toast,
    fruit out of a pudding, any kind of poultry or game, and two or
    three glasses of good claret, sherry, or Madeira--champagne, port
    and beer forbidden.

  For tea, two or three ounces of fruit, a rusk or two, and a cup of
    tea without milk or sugar.

  For supper, three or four ounces of meat or fish, similar to dinner,
    with a glass or two of claret.

  For nightcap, if required, a tumbler of grog--(gin, whiskey, or
    brandy, without sugar)--or a glass or two of claret or sherry.

This plan leads to an excellent night’s rest, with from six to eight
hours’ sound sleep. The dry toast or rusk may have a table spoonful of
spirit to soften it, which will prove acceptable. Perhaps I did not
wholly escape starchy or saccharine matter, but scrupulously avoided
those beans, such as milk, sugar, beer, butter, &c., which were known
to contain them.

On rising in the morning I take a table spoonful of a special
corrective cordial, which may be called the Balm of Life, in a
wine-glass of water, a most grateful draught, as it seems to carry away
all the dregs left in the stomach after digestion, but is not aperient;
then I take 5 or 6 ounces of solid and 8 of liquid for breakfast; 8
ounces of solid and 8 of liquid for dinner; 3 ounces of solid and 8 of
liquid for tea; 4 ounces of solid and 6 of liquid for supper, and the
grog afterwards, if I please. I am not, however, strictly limited to
any quantity at either meal, so that the nature of the food is rigidly
adhered to.

Experience has taught me to believe that these human beans are the most
insidious enemies man, with a tendency to corpulence in advanced life,
can possess, though eminently friendly to youth. He may very prudently
mount guard against such an enemy if he is not a fool to himself, and
I fervently hope this truthful unvarnished tale may lead him to make
a trial of my plan, which I sincerely recommend to public notice--not
with any ambitious motive, but in sincere good faith to help my fellow
creatures to obtain the marvellous blessings I have found within the
short period of a few months.

I do not recommend every corpulent man to rush headlong into such a
change of diet (_certainly not_), but to act advisedly and after full
consultation with a physician.

My former dietary table was bread and milk for breakfast, or a pint of
tea with plenty of milk and sugar, and buttered toast; meat, beer, much
bread (of which I was always very fond), and pastry for dinner, the
meal of tea similar to that of breakfast, and generally a fruit tart
or bread and milk for supper. I had little comfort and far less sound

It certainly appears to me that my present dietary table is far
superior to the former--more luxurious and liberal, independent of its
blessed effect--but when it is proved to be more healthful, comparisons
are simply ridiculous, and I can hardly imagine any man, even in
sound health, would choose the former, even if it were not an enemy;
but, when it is shown to be, as in my case, inimical both to health
and comfort, I can hardly conceive there is any man who would not
willingly avoid it. I can conscientiously assert I never lived so well
as under the new plan of dietary, which I should have formerly thought
a dangerous, extravagant trespass upon health. I am very much better,
bodily and mentally, and pleased to believe that I hold the reins of
health and comfort in my own hands; and, though at sixty-five years of
age, I cannot expect to remain free from some coming natural infirmity
that all flesh is heir to, I cannot, at the present time, complain of
one. It is simply miraculous, and I am thankful to Almighty Providence
for directing me, through an extraordinary chance, to the care of a
man who could work such a change in so short a time.

Oh! that the faculty would look deeper into and make themselves better
acquainted with the crying evil of obesity--that dreadful tormenting
parasite on health and comfort. Their fellow men might not descend
into early premature graves, as I believe many do, from what is termed
apoplexy, and certainly would not during their sojourn on earth, endure
so much bodily and consequently mental infirmity.

Corpulence, though giving no actual pain, as it appears to me, must
naturally press with undue violence upon the bodily viscera, driving
one part upon another and stopping the free action of all. I am sure it
did in my particular case, and the result of my experience is briefly
as follows:

  I have not felt so well as now for the last twenty years.

  Have suffered no inconvenience whatever in the probational remedy.

  Am reduced many inches in bulk, and 35 lbs. in weight in thirty-eight

  Come down stairs forward naturally, with perfect ease.

  Go up stairs and take ordinary exercise freely, without the slightest

  Can perform every necessary office for myself.

  The umbilical rupture is greatly ameliorated--and gives me no anxiety.

  My sight is restored--my hearing improved.

  My other bodily ailments are ameliorated--indeed almost past into
    matters of history.

I have placed a thank-offering of £50 in the hands of my kind medical
adviser, for distribution amongst his favorite hospitals, after gladly
paying his usual fees, and still remain under overwhelming obligations
for his care and attention, which I can never hope to repay. Most
thankful to Almighty Providence for mercies received, and determined to
press the case into public notice as a token of gratitude.

I have the pleasure to afford, in conclusion, a satisfactory
confirmation of my report, in stating that a corpulent friend of mine,
who, like myself, is possessed of a generally sound constitution, was
laboring under frequent palpitations of the heart and sensations of
fainting, was, at my instigation, induced to place himself in the hands
of my medical adviser, with the same gradual beneficial results. He
is at present under the same ordeal, and in eight weeks has profited
even more largely than I did in that short period; he has lost the
palpitations, and is becoming, so to speak, a new made man--thankful
to me for advising, and grateful to the eminent counsellor to whom I
referred him--and he looks forward with good hope to a perfect cure.

I am fully persuaded that hundreds, if not thousands, of our fellow men
might profit equally by a similar course; but, constitutions not being
all alike, a different course of treatment may be advisable for the
removal of so tormenting an affliction.

My kind and valued medical adviser is not a doctor for obesity, but
stands on the pinnacle of fame in the treatment of another malady,
which, as he well knows is frequently induced by the disease of which
I am speaking, and I sincerely trust most of my corpulent friends
(and there are thousands of corpulent people whom I dare not so rank)
may be led into my tram-road. To any such I am prepared to offer the
further key of knowledge by naming the man. It might seem invidious to
do so now, but I shall only be too happy, if applied to by letter in
good faith, or if any doubt should exist as to the correctness of this

                              WILLIAM BANTING, Sen.,
                     _Late of No. 27, St. James St., Piccadilly_,
                                _Now of No. 4, The Terrace, Kensington_.

  _May, 1863._


Having exhausted the first edition (1000 copies) of the foregoing
pamphlet; and a period of one year having elapsed since commencing the
admirable course of diet which has led to such inestimable beneficial
results, and, “as I expected and desired,” having quite succeeded
in attaining the happy medium of weight and bulk I had so long
ineffectually sought, _which appears necessary to health at my age and
stature_--I feel impelled, by a sense of public duty, to offer the
results of my experience in a second edition. It has been suggested
that I should have sold the pamphlet, devoting any profit to charity as
more agreeable and useful; and I had intended to adopt such a course,
but on reflection feared my motives might be mistaken; I therefore
respectfully present this (like the first Edition) to the public
gratuitously, earnestly hoping the subject may be taken up by medical
men and thoroughly ventilated.

It may (and I hope will) be as satisfactory to the public to hear as it
is for me to state, that the first edition has been attended with very
comforting results to other sufferers from corpulence, as the remedial
system therein described was to me under that terrible disease, which
was my main object in publishing my convictions on the subject. It has
moreover attained a success, produced flattering compliments, and an
amount of attention I could hardly have imagined possible. The pleasure
and satisfaction this has afforded me, is ample compensation for the
trouble and expense I have incurred, and I most sincerely trust, “as I
verily believe,” this second edition will be accompanied by similar
satisfactory results from a more extensive circulation. If so, it will
inspirit me to circulate further editions, whilst a corpulent person
exists, requiring, as I think, this system of diet, or so long as my
motives cannot be mistaken, and are thankfully appreciated.

My weight is reduced 46 lbs., and as the _very gradual reductions_
which I am able to show may be interesting to many, I have great
pleasure in stating them, believing they serve to demonstrate further
the merit of the system pursued.

My weight on 26th of August, 1862, was 202 lbs.

                           lbs.            lbs.
  On 7th September, it was 200, having lost 2
    27th     “        “    197        “     3 more.
    19th October      “    193        “     4  “
     9th November     “    190        “     3  “
     3rd December     “    187        “     3  “
    24th     “        “    184        “     3  “
    14th Jan., 1863   “    182        “     2  “
     4th February     “    180        “     2  “
    25th     “        “    178        “     2  “
    18th March        “    176        “     2  “
     8th April        “    173        “     3  “
    29th   “          “    170        “     3  “
    20th May          “    167        “     3  “
    10th June         “    164        “     3  “
     1st July         “    161        “     3  “
     22d July         “    159        “     2  “
    12th August       “    157        “     2  “
    26th   “          “    156        “     1  “
    12th September    “    156        “     0  “
      Total loss of weight                 46 lbs.

My girth is reduced round the waist, in tailor phraseology, 12-1/4
inches, which extent was hardly conceivable even by my friends, or my
respected medical adviser, until I put on my former clothing, over what
I now wear, which was a thoroughly convincing proof of the remarkable
change. These important desiderata have been attained by the most easy
and comfortable means, with but little medicine, and almost entirely
by a system of diet that formerly I should have thought dangerously
generous. I am told by all who know me that my personal appearance is
greatly improved, and that I seem to bear the stamp of good health;
this may be a matter of opinion or friendly remark, but I can honestly
assert that I feel restored in health, “bodily and mentally,” appear to
have more muscular power and vigor, eat and drink with a good appetite,
and sleep well. All symptoms of acidity, indigestion and heartburn
(with which I was frequently tormented) have vanished. I have left
off using boot hooks, and other such aids, which were indispensable,
but being now able to stoop with ease and freedom, are unnecessary. I
have lost the feeling of _occasional faintness_, and what I think a
remarkable blessing and comfort is, that I have been able safely to
leave off knee bandages, which I had worn _necessarily_ for 20 past
years, and given up a truss almost entirely; indeed, I believe I might
wholly discard it with safety, but am advised to wear it at least
occasionally for the present.

Since publishing my pamphlet, I have felt constrained to send a copy
of it to my former medical advisers, and to ascertain their opinions
on the subject. They did not dispute or question the propriety of the
system, but either dared not venture its practice upon a man of my age,
or thought it too great a sacrifice of personal comfort to be generally
advised or adopted, and I fancy neither of them appeared to feel the
fact of the misery of corpulence. One eminent physician, as I before
stated, assured me that increasing weight was a necessary result of
advancing years; another, equally eminent, to whom I had been directed
by a very friendly third, who had most kindly but ineffectually failed
in a remedy, added to my weight in a few weeks instead of abating the
evil. These facts lead me to believe the question is not sufficiently
observed or even regarded.

The great charm and comfort of the system is, that its effects are
palpable within a week of trial, which creates a natural stimulus to
persevere for a few weeks more, when the fact becomes established
beyond question.

I only entreat all persons suffering from corpulence to make a fair
trial for just one clear month, as I am well convinced they will
afterwards pursue a course which yields such extraordinary benefit,
till entirely and effectually relieved, and be it remembered, by the
sacrifice merely of simple, for the advantage of more generous and
comforting food. The simple dietary evidently adds fuel to the fire,
whereas the superior and liberal seems to extinguish it.

I am delighted to be able to assert that I have proved the great merit
and advantage of the system by its result in several other cases,
similar to my own, and have full confidence that within the next twelve
months I shall know of many more cases restored from the disease of
corpulence, for I have received the kindest possible letters from
many afflicted strangers and friends, as well as similar personal
observations from others, whom I have converse with, and assurances
from most of them that they will kindly inform me the result for my own
private satisfaction. Many are practicing the diet after consultation
with their own medical advisers; some few have gone to mine, and
others are practicing upon their own convictions of the advantages
detailed in the pamphlet, though I recommend all to act advisedly, in
case their constitutions should differ. I am, however, so perfectly
satisfied of the great unerring benefits of this system of diet, that
I shall spare no trouble to circulate my humble experience. The amount
and character of my correspondence on the subject has been strange and
singular, but most satisfactory to my mind and feelings.

I am now in that happy, comfortable state that I should not hesitate to
indulge in any fancy in regard to diet, but if I did so should watch
the consequences, and not continue any course which might add to weight
or bulk and consequent discomfort.

Is not the system suggestive to artists and men of sedentary employment
who cannot spare time for exercise, consequently become corpulent, and
clog the little muscular action with a superabundance of fat, thus
easily avoided?

Pure, genuine bread, may be the staff of life, as it is termed. It is
so, particularly in youth, but I feel certain it is more wholesome
in advanced life if thoroughly toasted, as I take it. My impression
is that any starchy or saccharine matter tends to the disease of
corpulence in advanced life, and whether it be swallowed in that form
or generated in the stomach, that all things tending to these elements
should be avoided, of course always under sound medical authority.

                                                        WILLIAM BANTING.


It is very satisfactory to me to be able to state, that I remained at
the same standard of bulk and weight for several weeks after the 26th
August, when I attained the happy natural medium, since which time I
have varied in weight from two to three pounds, more or less. I have
seldom taken the morning draught since that time, and have frequently
indulged my fancy, _experimentally_, in using milk, sugar, butter, and
potatoes--indeed, I may say all the forbidden articles _except beer_,
in moderation, with impunity, but always as an exception, not as a
rule. This deviation, however, convinces me that I hold the power of
maintaining the happy medium in my own hands.

A kind friend has lately furnished me with a tabular statement in
regard to weight as proportioned to stature, which, under present
circumstances and the new movement, may be interesting and useful to
corpulent readers:

  STATURE.                    WEIGHT.
  5 ft. 1 should be 8 stone 8 or 120 lbs.
  5  “  2     “     9   “   0 “  126  “
  5  “  3     “     9   “   7 “  133  “
  5  “  4     “     9   “  10 “  136  “
  5  “  5     “    10   “   2 “  142  “
  5  “  6     “    10   “   5 “  145  “
  5  “  7     “    10   “   8 “  148  “
  5  “  8     “    11   “   1 “  155  “
  5  “  9     “    11   “   8 “  162  “
  5  “ 10     “    12   “   1 “  169  “
  5  “ 11     “    12   “   6 “  174  “
  6  “  0     “    12   “  10 “  178  “

This tabular statement, taken from a mean average of 2,648 healthy
men, was formed and arranged for an Insurance Company by the late Dr.
John Hutchinson. It answered as a pretty good standard, and insurances
were regulated upon it. His calculations were made upon the volume of
air passing in and out of the lungs, and this was his guide as to how
far the various organs of the body were in health, and the lungs in
particular. It may be viewed as some sort of probable rule, yet only as
an average--some in health weighing more by many pounds than others. It
must not be looked upon as infallible, but only as a sort of general
reasonable guide to Nature’s great and mighty work.

On a general view of the question I think it may be conceded that a
frame of low stature was hardly intended to bear heavy weight. Judging
from this tabular statement I ought to be considerably lighter than I
am at present: I shall not, however, covet or aim at such a result,
nor, on the other hand feel alarmed if I decrease a little more in
weight and bulk.

I am certainly more sensitive to cold since I have lost the
superabundant fat, but this is remedial by another garment, far more
agreeable and satisfactory. Many of my friends have said, “Oh! you have
done well so far, but take care you don’t go too far!” I fancy such a
circumstance, with such a dietary, very unlikely, if not impossible;
but feeling that I have now nearly attained the right standard of
bulk and weight proportional to my stature and age (between 10 and
11 stone), I should not hesitate to partake of a fattening dietary
occasionally, to preserve the happy standard, if necessary; indeed, I
am allowed to do so by my medical adviser, but I shall always observe a
careful watch upon myself to discover the effect, and act accordingly,
so that, if I choose to spend a day or two with Dives, so to speak, I
must not forget to devote the next to Lazarus.

The remedy may be as old as the hills, as I have since been told, but
its application is of very recent date; and it astonishes me that such
a light should have remained so long unnoticed and hidden, as not to
afford a glimmer to my anxious mind in a search for it during the last
twenty years, even in directions where it might have been expected
to be known. I would rather presume it is a new light, than that it
was purposely hidden merely because the disease of obesity was not
immediately dangerous to existence, nor thought to be worthy of serious
consideration. Little do the faculty imagine the misery and bitterness
to life through the parasite of corpulence or obesity.

I can now confidently say that _quantity_ of diet may be safely left
to the natural appetite; and that it is the _quality_ only, which is
essential to abate and cure corpulence. I stated the quantities of
my own dietary, because it was part of a truthful report, but some
correspondents have doubted whether it should be more or less in their
own cases, a doubt which would be better solved by their own appetite,
or medical adviser. I have heard a graphic remark by a corpulent man,
which may not be inappropriately stated here, _that big houses were not
formed with scanty materials_. This, however, is a poor excuse for self
indulgence in improper food, or for not consulting medical authority.

The approach of corpulence is so gradual that, until it is far
advanced, persons rarely become objects of attention. Many have even
congratulated themselves on their comely appearance, and have not
sought advice or a remedy for what they did not consider an evil, for
an evil I can say most truly it is, when in much excess, to which point
it must, in my opinion arrive, unless obviated by proper means.

Many have wished to know (as future readers may) the nature of the
morning draught, or where it could be obtained, but believing it would
have been highly imprudent on my part to have presumed that what was
proper for my constitution was applicable to all indiscriminately,
I could only refer them to a medical adviser for any aid beyond the
dietary; assuring them, however, it was not a dram but of an alkaline

Some, I believe, would willingly submit to even a violent remedy, so
that an immediate benefit could be produced; this is not the object of
the treatment, as it cannot but be dangerous, in my humble opinion, to
reduce a disease of this nature suddenly; they are probably then too
prone to despair of success, and consider it as unalterably connected
with their constitution. Many under this feeling doubtless return to
their former habits, encouraged so to act by the ill-judged advice of
friends, who, I am persuaded (from the correspondence I have had on
this most interesting subject) become unthinking accomplices in the
destruction of those whom they regard and esteem.

The question of four meals a-day, and the night cap, has been
abundantly and amusingly criticized. I ought perhaps to have stated
as an excuse for such liberality of diet, that I breakfast between
eight and nine o’clock, dine between one and two, take my slight tea
meal between five and six, sup at nine, and only take the night cap
when inclination directs. My object in naming it at all was, that, as
a part of a whole system, it should be known, and to show it is not
forbidden to those who are advised that they need such a luxury; nor
was it injurious in my case. Some have inquired whether smoking was
prohibited. It was not.

It has also been remarked that such a dietary as mine was too good and
expensive for a poor man, and that I had wholly lost sight of that
class; but a very poor corpulent man is not so frequently met with,
inasmuch as the poor cannot afford the simple inexpensive means for
creating fat; but when the tendency does exist in that class, I have no
doubt it can be remedied by abstinence from the forbidden articles, and
a moderate indulgence in such cheap stimulants as may be recommended
by a medical adviser, whom they have ample chances of consulting

I have a very strong feeling that gout (another terrible parasite upon
humanity) might be greatly relieved, if not cured entirely, by this
proper natural dietary, and sincerely hope some person so afflicted
may be induced to practice the harmless plan for three months (as I
certainly would if the case were my own) to prove it; but not without

My impression from the experiments I have tried on myself of late is,
that saccharine matter is the great moving cause of fatty corpulence.
I know that it produces in my individual case increased weight and
a large amount of flatulence, and believe, that not only sugar, but
all elements tending to create saccharine matter in the process of
digestion, should be avoided. I apprehend it will be found in bread,
butter, milk, beer, port wine, and champagne; I have not found
starchy matter so troublesome as the saccharine, which, I think,
largely increases acidity as well as fat, but, with ordinary care and
observation, people will soon find what food rests easiest in the
stomach, and avoid that which does not, during the probationary trial
of the proposed dietary. Vegetables and ripe or stewed fruit I have
found ample aperients. Failing this, medical advice should be sought.

The word “_parasite_” has been much commented upon, as inappropriate
to any but a living creeping thing (of course I use the word in a
figurative sense, as a burden to the flesh), but if fat is not an
insidious creeping enemy, I do not know what is. I should have equally
applied the word to gout, rheumatism, dropsy, and many other diseases.

Whereas hitherto the appeals to me to know the name of my medical
adviser have been very numerous, I may say hundreds, which I have
gladly answered, though forming no small item of the expense incurred,
and whereas the very extensive circulation expected of the third
edition is likely to lead to some thousands of similar applications,
I feel bound in self-defence, to state that the medical gentleman to
whom I am so deeply indebted is Mr. Harvey, Soho Square, London, whom
I consulted for deafness. In the first and second editions, I thought
that to give his name would appear like a puff, which I know he abhors;
indeed, I should prefer not to do so now, but cannot in justice to
myself, incur further probable expense (which I fancy inevitable)
besides the personal trouble, for which I cannot afford time, and,
therefore, feel no hesitation to refer to him as my guarantee for the
truth of the pamphlet.

One material point I should be glad to impress on my corpulent
readers--it is, to get accurately weighed at starting upon the fresh
system, and continue to do so weekly or monthly, for the change will
be so truly palpable by this course of examination, that it will arm
them with perfect confidence in the merit and ultimate success of the
plan. I deeply regret not having secured a photographic portrait of
my original figure in 1862, to place in juxta position with one of my
present form. It might have amused some, but certainly would have been
very convincing to others, and astonishing to all that such an effect
should have been so readily and speedily produced by the simple natural
cause of exchanging a meagre for a generous dietary under proper

I shall ever esteem it a great favor if persons relieved and cured, as
I have been, will kindly let me know of it; the information will be
truly gratifying to my mind. That the system is a great success, I have
not a shadow of doubt from the numerous reports sent with thanks by
strangers as well as from friends from all parts of the kingdom; and I
am truly thankful to have been the humble instrument of disseminating
the blessing and experience I have attained through able counsel and
natural causes by proper perseverance.

I have now finished my task, and trust my humble efforts may prove to
be good seed well sown, that will fructify and produce a large harvest
of benefit to my fellow creatures. I also hope the faculty generally
may be led more extensively to ventilate this question of corpulence
or obesity, so that, instead of one, two, or three able practitioners,
there may be as many hundreds distributed in the various parts of the
United Kingdom. In such case, I am persuaded, that those diseases, like
Reverence and Golden Pippins, will be very rare.


Since publishing the third edition of my pamphlet, I have earnestly
pressed my medical adviser to explain the reasons for so remarkable
a result as I and others have experienced from the dietary system he
prescribed, and I hope he may find time to do so shortly, as I believe
it would be highly interesting to the Faculty and the public generally.
He has promised this at his leisure.

Numerous applications having been made to me on points to which I had
not alluded, in which my correspondents felt some doubt and interest,
I take this opportunity of making some few corrections in my published

I ought, “it seems,” to have excepted veal, owing to its indigestible
quality, as well as pork for its fattening character; also herrings
and eels (owing to their oily nature), being as injurious as salmon.
In respect to vegetables, not only should potatoes be prohibited,
but parsnips, beetroot, turnips, and carrots. The truth is, I seldom
or ever partook of these objectionable articles myself, and did not
reflect that others might do so, or that they were forbidden. Green
vegetables are considered very beneficial, and I believe should be
adopted at all times. I am indebted to the “Cornhill Magazine” and
other journals for drawing my attention to these dietetic points. I
can now also state that eggs, if not hard boiled, are unexceptionable,
that cheese, if sparingly used, and plain boiled rice seem harmless.

Some doubts have been expressed in regard to the vanishing point of
such a descending scale, but it is a remarkable fact that the great and
most palpable diminution in weight and bulk occurs within the first
forty-eight hours, the descent is then more gradual. My own experience,
and that of others, assures me (if medical authority be first consulted
as to the complaint) that with such slight extraneous aid as medicine
can afford, nature will do her duty, and only her duty: firstly, by
relieving herself of immediate pressure she will be enabled to move
more freely in her own beautiful way, and secondly, by pursuing the
same course to work speedy amelioration and final cure. The vanishing
point is only when the disease is stopped and the parasite annihilated.

It may interest my readers to know that I have now apparently attained
the standard natural at my age (10 stone 10, or 150 lbs.), as my weight
now varies only to the extent of 1 lb., more or less in the course of a
month. According to Dr. Hutchinson’s tables I ought to lose still more,
but cannot do so without resorting to medicine; and, feeling in sound
vigorous health, I am perfectly content to wait upon nature for any
further change.

In my humble judgment the dietary is the principal point in the
treatment of Corpulence, and it appears to me, moreover, that if
properly regulated it becomes in a certain sense a medicine. The system
seems to me to attack only the superfluous deposit of fat, and, as my
medical friend informs me, purges the blood, rendering it more pure and
healthy, strengthens the muscles and bodily viscera, and I feel quite
convinced sweetens life if it does not prolong it.

It is truly gratifying to me to be able now to add that many other of
the most exalted members of the Faculty have honoured my movement in
the question with their approbation.

I consider it a public duty further to state, that Mr. Harvey, whom
I have named on the 24th page as my kind medical adviser in the cure
of Corpulence, is not Dr. John Harvey, who has published a Pamphlet
on Corpulence assimilating with some of the features and the general
aspect of mine, and which has been considered (as I learn from
correspondents who have obtained it) the work of my medical friend. It
is not.

I am glad, therefore, to repeat that my medical adviser was, and is
still, Mr. WILLIAM HARVEY, F.R.C.S., No. 2, Soho Square, London, W.

                                                        WILLIAM BANTING.

  _April, 1864._


“My patient, Mr. Banting, having published for the benefit of his
fellow sufferers, some account of the diet which I recommended him to
adopt with a view to relieve him of a distressing degree of hypertrophy
of the adipose tissue. I have been frequently urged by him to explain
the principles upon which I was enabled to treat with success this
inconvenient, and in some instances, distressing condition of the

“The simple history of my finding occasion to investigate this
subject is as follows:--When in Paris, in the year 1856, I took the
opportunity of attending a discussion on the views of M. Bernard, who
was at that time propounding his now generally admitted theory of
the liver functions. After he had discovered by chemical processes
and physiological experiments, which it is unnecessary for me to
recapitulate here, that the liver not only secreted bile, but also a
peculiar amyloid or starch-like product which he called glucose, and
which in its chemical and physical properties appeared to be nearly
allied to saccharine matter, he further found that this glucose could
be directly produced in the liver by the ingestion of sugar and its
ally starch, and that in diabetes it existed there in considerable
excess. It had long been well known that a purely animal diet greatly
assisted in checking the secretion of diabetic urine; and it seemed
to follow, as a matter of course, that the total abstinence from
saccharine and farinaceous matter must drain the liver of this
excessive amount of glucose, and thus arrest in a similar proportion
the diabetic tendency. Reflecting on this chain of argument, and
knowing too that a saccharine and farinaceous diet is used to fatten
certain animals, and that in diabetes, the whole of the fat of the body
rapidly disappears, it occurred to me that excessive obesity might be
allied to diabetes as to its cause, although widely diverse in its
development: and that if a purely animal diet was useful in the latter
disease, a combination of animal food with such vegetable matters as
contained neither sugar nor starch, might serve to arrest the undue
formation of fat. I soon afterwards had an opportunity of testing this
idea. A dispensary patient, who consulted me for deafness, and who was
enormously corpulent, I found to have no distinguishable disease of
the ear. I therefore suspected that his deafness arose from the great
development of adipose matter in the throat, pressing upon and stopping
up the eustachian tubes. I subjected him to a strict non-farinaceous
and non-saccharine diet, and treated him with the volatile alkali
alluded to in his Pamphlet, and occasional aperients, and in about
seven months he was reduced to almost normal proportions, his hearing
restored, and his general health immensely improved. This case seemed
to give substance and reality to my conjectures, which further
experience has confirmed.

“When we consider that fat is what is termed hydro carbon, and deposits
itself so insidiously and yet so gradually amongst the tissues of
the body, it is at once manifest that we require such substances as
contain a superfluity of oxygen and nitrogen to arrest its formation
and to vitalize the system. That is the principal upon which the
diet suggested in his Pamphlet works, and explains on the one hand
the necessity of abstaining from all vegetable roots which hold a
large quantity of saccharine matter, and on the other the beneficial
effects derivable from those vegetables, the fruits of which are on the
exterior of the earth, as they lose, probably by means of the sun’s
action, a large proportion of their sugar.

“With regard to the tables of Dr. Hutchinson, referred to in his
Pamphlet, it is no doubt difficult, as he says, to determine what is a
man’s proper weight, which must be influenced by various causes. Those
tables, however, were formed by him on the principle of considering
the amount of air which the lungs in their healthy state can receive
and apply to the oxydation of the blood. I gave them to Mr. Banting
as an indication only of what the approximate weight of adult persons
in proportion to their stature should be, and with the view of
proving to them the importance of keeping down the tendency to grow
fat; for, as that tendency increases, the capacity of the lungs, and
consequently the vitality and power of the whole system must diminish.
In conclusion, I would suggest the propriety of advising a dietary such
as this in diseases that are in any way influenced by a disordered
condition of the hepatic functions, as they cannot fail to yield in
some degree to this simple method of treatment if fairly and properly
carried out; it remains for me to watch its progress in a more limited

                                   “WILLIAM HARVEY, F.R.C.S.,
                                       “Surgeon to the Royal Dispensary,
                                            for Diseases of the Ear.”

  _2, Soho Square_,
  _April, 1864_.

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