You may know William Howard Taft as the 27th president and the only one to become a U.S. chief justice after leaving office. But he is perhaps most famously known for being, well, really fat. It turns out he was also a bit of a trailblazer. Way before Weight Watchers or “The Biggest Loser,” Taft was helping to usher in a modern approach to treating obesity.
Got a nagging doctor? Taft did, way back in the early 1900s. A medical historian has analyzed letters between the two, complete with food diaries and daily weigh-ins.
Have a problem with yo-yo dieting and weight gain? Yep, Taft did, too.
The report offers a rare peek at the history of obesity, through the experiences of one of the first American public figures to struggle openly with weight—and how a doctor aided in an era when physician treatment of obesity was just emerging.