Pennington describes all-the-meat-you-want diet
June 1, 1949
Obesity in Industry, the Problem and its Solution
"You can’t mean an unlimited amount of meat, surely,” I protested. “If I ate all the steak I wanted, I’d top the thousand-calories-a-day mark before I knew it.”
“There’s no calorie counting on this reducing diet,” the doctor answered. “And there’s no limit, absolutely none, to the amount of meat you can eat. The first course of each meal is half a pound or more of fresh meat with the fat. The main stipulation is that you don’t skip the fat. One part of fat by weight to three parts of lean, always and invariably. A few Eskimos amoung your ancestors might come in handy.”
In midsummer of last year, a paper with the title “Obesity in Industry, the Problem and its Solution” appeared over Doctor Pennington’s name in Industrial Medicine (June, 1949, pages 259 and 260). In it, the results of the pilot program at Du Pont were revealed.
Of the twenty men and women taking part in the test, all lost weight on a dietary in which the total calorie intake was unrestricted. The basic diet totaled about 3000 calories per day, but meat and fat in any desired amount were allowed those who wanted to eat still more. The dieters reported that they felt well, enjoyed their meals and were never hungry between meals. Many said they felt more energetic than usual; none complained of fatigue. Those who had high blood pressure to begin with were happy to be told by the doctors that a drop in blood pressure paralleled their drop in weight.
The twenty “obese individuals,” as the paper unflatteringly terms them, lost an average of twenty-two pounds each, in an average time of three and a half months. The range of weight loss was from nine to fifty-four pounds and the range of time was from about one and a half to six months.
“This pilot program was no stunt,” said Doctor Gehrmann in summarizing. “It was carried out only after considerable thought and study. Its bases are deep in sound nutritional research. It was designed not to startle but to serve, and we have since broadened our Du Pont obesity-control program on the proved principles illustrated by its results.
“The diet works. It safeguards health; I’m convinced we can even say it saves lives. It boosts employee morale, it’s true, but the important thing is not that it has given these overweight men and women new figures. The diet has done just that in many instances and we’ve been pleased to see the pride these people take in being slim once more. But we’re proudest of the fact that the program may have given some of our dieters more far-reaching futures than they might otherwise have had.”
The first course of each meal is: One-half pound or more of fresh meat with the fat. You can eat as much as you want. The proper proportion is three parts lean to one part fat. Most of the meat you buy is not fat enough, so it is best to get extra beef-kidney fat and fry it to make up the proper proportion. Good meats are roast beef, steak, roast lamb, lamb chops, stew meat, fresh pork roast and pork chops. Hamburger with added fat is all right if the meat is freshly ground just before it is cooked. Avoid smoked or canned meats, sausages and salted butter. Fresh fish (not smoked or canned) may be substituted upon occasion.
The second course of each meal is: An ordinary portion of any one of the following-white potatoes (boiled, baked or fried), sweet potatoes, boiled rice, grapefruit, grapes, melon, banana or pear, raspberries or blueberries. This part of the diet is strictly limited. No second helpings.
Substitutions were entirely possible, Doctor Pennington said, but experience has shown that they confuse the dieter and make a breakover a good deal more likely. Moreover, the “second course” foods were chosen largely because they seem to be less frequently associated with food allergies than certain others. One’s own physician could, if need be, “custom tailor” the list within limits to fit the dieter.
“A problem nobody had ws learning to like meat! That’s the one thing we have to thank, more than any other, for the fact that people stayed on the diet and liked it. Or maybe I’d do better to put that the other way round. Our dieters liked this all-the-meat-you-want pattern for losing weight so much that they stuck to the program in spite of the few other things about it they didn’t like quite so well.”