Devices And Machine To Make You Slim

Vital Information

We are continuing our discussions of diets, dieting, and the various ways people have attempted to lose weight. In the last article we looked at the phenomenon of women’s magazines as a huge factor in the return of calorie counting after World War II. And we saw the rise of meals in a can, which are still with us today.

But while some were swigging down these drinks, others were trying a different approach, that of getting the pounds off by using devices and machines that would do the work for you. Since not eating what you want is a burden, devices to make the stress and sacrifice of dieting disappear had, and continue to have, a definite appeal to many people.

As early as the 1890s, a Boston druggist sold a corset-like device he called an “obesity belt,” which had electrically charged disks that were said to disintegrate fat and dispel intestinal gas. By the 1930s there was a ‘magic’ reducing couch, the so-called Slendro Massager table. This was associated with a ‘reducing cream’ that would supposedly “rub away the fat.”

I hear some of you laughing that people in ‘those days’ must have been terribly gullible to think that such a thing would work. Better stop laughing. In 1993 a similar product appeared on the market. It was known as “thigh cream,” and it too was said to rub away the fat. This product contained an asthma drug called aminophylline, though how this contributed anything to the thigh cream is certainly not clear.



In 1950 Slenderella Reducing Salons opened their doors. Overweight people, primarily women, were taken into small curtained cubbyholes where they lay fully clothed on shaking and vibrating tables that were designed to jiggle the fatty areas, thereby breaking up the fat deposits and sending them into the blood circulation. The fat in the blood would then be used as a source of energy to the body, and weight loss would result. Customers were also given diet advice in the form of what were called “menu adjustments.” These were actually low calorie diets, but the emphasis was on the machines, not on the food.

Slenderella Salons lasted for some nine years. During the period from 1955 to 1959, some 15,000 to 20,000 women were visiting Slenderella Salons daily in an attempt to ‘spot reduce’ away their fat. Slenderella closed in 1959 because the owners had problems with the IRS, not because of any lack of clientele.


The Relaxocizer And Hip Shakers

Then came the Relaxocizer. This was an electric muscle stimulation device, about the size of a thick, large laptop computer. It sent electric ‘shocks’ into the muscles, usually the muscles of the hips and thighs, when the user lay between a special pad and an electrode. When the electric pulse passed from the electrode to the pad, the user’s muscle would contract. This was done repeatedly, causing the muscles to contract repeatedly. The sellers of the device claimed this exercised the muscles, and promoted weight loss.

The FDA did not agree, and claimed the device was unsafe and a danger to the populace. They even went so far as to demand that anyone owning one of these machines must destroy it since it could be related to a whole host of possible problems, including promoting miscarriages and aggravating many pre-existing medical conditions such as hernia, ulcers, varicose veins and epilepsy. (Not that there was much actual evidence of any such problems.)

Critics who didn’t share the FDA’s view that the machine could reach out and grab unsuspecting and naive users, causing them irrefutable harm, said that the Relaxocizer was merely useless. They declared that it relied on “passive exercise,” but that passive exercise is not, by definition, exercise. Nonetheless, electric muscle stimulators are currently in use in physical therapy offices all over the world, for the express purpose of exercising muscles. However, when electric muscle stimulators are used for the purpose of physical therapy, the machines are not expected to promote weight loss.

In any event, the Relaxocizer machine was declared illegal in 1970 and taken off the market. Even buying or selling used machines was held to be against the law.

Later, there was a wonderful device that looked a little bit like a treadmill. This was the hip shaker. The user stood on the machine in front of a motor assembly that was mounted on a pole that put the motor at about hip level. A wide belt attached to the motor on both the right and the left sides of the machine. The user unhooked one side, wrapped the belt around the hips, and reattached the belt to the machine. When turned on, the motor caused the belt to move back and forth quite fast, thus shaking the user’s hips and upper thighs. It was designed to break up fat deposits in the body, and send them into the blood circulation. It made a lot of noise.


Body Wraps

While not strictly machines designed for weight loss, body wraps can be seen as non-electrical devices for that purpose. Body wraps are elastic bandages that are soaked in a variety of solutions and then wrapped around portions of the body. The solutions range from herbal extracts to “secret formulas,” and are said to provide wondrous benefits, such as weight loss, fat reduction, and skin tightening and toning.

But there is no evidence that body wraps produce weight loss or that they can reduce fat. There is no evidence that they do anything except smell good. In fact, the small print in promotional literature for body wraps usually says that lasting weight loss and fat reduction is possible only by dietary and exercise methods.

Next time we’ll look at diet pills and their effects. Please join me then.

To read the previous articles concerning The History Of Diets And Dieting, go to:

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