When Fatness was Admired: The Story of Daniel Lambert

There was a time that, believe it or not, fatness was an admired trait. Take, for instance, the case of Daniel Lambert, whom Charles Dickens himself wrote about in his novel.

Here's an excerpt from The Human Marvels:

At the age of 20, as [Daniel Lambert's] mass started to grow – he consciously remained active and watched his diet. However, in the 1790’s Daniel took over his father’s position as keeper of Leicester prison – and took up a stationary lifestyle. In 1793, he weighed 448 pounds – in a time when the greatest weight ever medically recorded in England was around 616 pounds. Despite his weight, Lambert was still quite strong and showed little sign of fatigue as he gave swimming and hunting lessons. However, his weight continued and in 1801, at 560 pounds, he could no longer hunt, his horse simply could not bear his weight. In 1805, his prison closed down and, after a brief time as a recluse and ballooning to a legitimate 700 pounds, he took to exhibiting himself for profit.


Fatness was admired because it meant you were rich enough to buy lots of food. I don't know if people knew about the health risks at that time. (The article does say that his weight was due to a pituitary condition, though, and not overeating.)
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