Dieting during WWI

Current Location

United Kingdom


Isn't it ironic how human nature remains the same despite the ages, geography and even in the midst of a world war? I came across a rather funny advert today in the Luton News Archives that shows how weight concerns and diets were still as popular in Luton during the war as they are now. 

'Dr William's Pink Pills' promised to cure amongst other things, indigestion, nervous dyspepsia and flatulency, all the while helping you to lose weight by supplying 'the stomach with well oxygenated blood'. Okay, so diet pills nowadays don't usually claim to cure as many ailments as Dr William's do but don't these lofty promises and advertising jargon sound so familiar?

Even the fact that these pills were endorsed by a freely available (surely the economy was suffering in the midst of the Great War?) book 'What to Eat and How to Eat' rings a bell; take a look at diet supplement and food adverts today, many still use the same marketing technique of giving out a freebie as a further incentive to buy. 

Aside from the ironic significance of the advert, I think the real value of it lies in the fact that it helps shed light on some of the cultural values and concerns of the ordinary British townsfolk at the time. Despite what was widely believed to be the 'War to end all Wars' occurring in the background (or forefront depending on your perspective); despite the fact that virtually everyone in Luton would probably have been affected by the war by this point; in spite of all the changes, the anger and pain caused by the war, it's nice to know that some normality still remained.  

Author: rsonagra

Add comment

Log in or register to post comments