The Sun’s attitude to health wasn’t always learned. In fact, there were times that the newspaper of record in British Columbia sounded like a schoolyard bully.

Case in point, this series of childhood weight loss features by one Elmer Wheeler, who the paper announced “took off 40 lbs in 80 days” before writing what was known as ‘The Fat Boys Book.’

Shortly afterwards, he discovered “to his dismay” he had put the weight back.

The Sun chronicled Elmer’s fall and rise, then subsequent fall again with a series titled “Food Betrays the Fat Boy” which ran on the front page for a week.

Elmer’s advice was pretty simple, even for the time – “Don’t eat” – and, to parents of overweight boys, “I’d scare the suet off them.”

He also lobbied for the creation of a Fat Boys Society, “Where they could be studied like ants,” and suggested, among other things, that overweight boys should eat stale bread because it “crumbles on the table, so less calories get into you than when you eat fresh bread.”

He recalls how his own doctor’s advice on weight loss was, “Listen you, Blimp Boy, there isn’t anything wrong with you that less food won’t cure!”

Elmer continued, “Put 20 gallons of gas into two Ford cars. But set the motor of one car running faster, and it burns up the 20 gallons sooner than the slow-running car. Which is why your wife, jumping around all day, tapping her fingers, talking with her hands, feet and mouth all at the same time, remains skinny. And you stack on the heft!”

That’s right: Marriage material, ladies.

The Sun, at the time, thought so much of Wheeler’s advice that they set a staffer up as the ‘Fat Boys Editor’ to coordinate it.

Part of that series involved the sidebar you’ll find below, which must have given overweight boys of the time no end of sorrow.

But just so we’re clear – it wasn’t me.



January 7, 1953
By Elmer Wheeler

Know any of these types?

Analyzing a true, dyed-in-the-wool fatso is interesting. There must be 57 different varieties, but here are a few:

Torpedo Type: He has a pot belly, his sole distinguishing claim for a fat boy award. A belly like the warhead on a submarine.

Penguin: He waddles as he walks. His legs are short like pier pilings. His body is long and has the general aspect of a pillbox on the Maginot Line. People scatter when he meets them on sidewalks.

Razorbacks: So named for his resemblance to that breed of Arkansas hog. His legs are long and slender, his back lean. But from his jowls down he is solid suet.

Diamond Jim Brady: The really-all-fat. He calls it muscles.

Steamer Trunk Derrieres:Heavy big fellow. Six foot of food – and on the rear, mainly. From too much sitting.

Editor’s note, Jan 7 1953: This information and the Wheeler’s Reducing Thermometer seen above, and the ‘Fat Boy’s calorie chart’ can be obtained free of charge at The Sun personal service counter or by sending a stamped self-addressed envelope to The Fat Boy Editor, The Sun.

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