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Free to Be Fat

LONDON – The classic 1981 horror movie The Monster Club, starring Vincent Price, Donald Pleasance, and John Carradine as monsters, included a cast of cannibals, vampires, werewolves, ghouls, and a hybrid creature called a “shadmock.” Among this group of misfits, the only outcast was an ordinary fat girl.

Hollywood did not invent the concept of the fat-monster. In 1770, an English miller named Thomas Wood became the world’s first weight-loss celebrity. Promoting “abstemious warfare,” Wood was known as “Monster Miller.” At 43, he suffered from obesity, along with arthritis, gout, indigestion, and “raging thirst” (possibly diabetes), as well as almost suicidal depression.