A healthy interest: diets, exercise and ideal bodies in England and Holland, 1650–1800

Year of award: 2018


  • Marsha Wubbels

    University of Exeter

Project summary

Today we are constantly confronted with advice on what to eat and how to exercise. This project investigates to what extent such advice was promoted and to whom in early modern Europe. Increasingly, books on health and the body provided non-medical people with guidance on how to look after themselves, but it is not clear whether people paid attention to this advice and altered their eating and exercise habits.

I will study advice and practice in England and Holland, 1650–1800 to show how influential such advice may have been and how successful people were in putting it into practice. I will ask how far we can detect the early development of a culture that was concerned with ideal body size and shape linked to diet and exercise.