One version of human history goes like this: for most of it people struggled to find enough food to survive. And then, in the developed world, we started doing something that would have surely baffled our ancestors: we started deliberately dieting to lose weight.
Jeffrey O'Brien provided some recent context. "In 1980, 15 percent of adult Americans were obese, defined as having a minimum body mass index of 30, or roughly 200 pounds on a 5′ 8″ frame," he wrote. "Today, more than a third of us qualify."
In 2009, Mark Adams tried a raw foods diet. "I hoovered green tea to stave off caffeine headaches and ate bowls of berries with twice-soaked buckwheat, the texture of which can charitably be described as gooey," he wrote. "I purchased so much fruit each day that my produce man must have thought I was canning preserves."
And Emily Yoffe cut back to 1,500 calories a day in hopes of living to 120. It wasn't pretty. "My body was begging to get back to its set point," Yoffe wrote of the CRON diet. "As my hunger increased, I felt as if I had unleashed my knish-wielding grandmother, who was screaming inside me, 'Eat! Eat!'"