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July 28, 1962

Correction and Control of Intractable Obesity: Practicable Application of Intermittent Periods of Total Fasting

Author Affiliations


Professor of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Director, Divisions of Medicine, Pennsylvania Hospital and Benjamin Franklin Clinic (Dr. Duncan), Instructor in Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Assistant Physician to the Pennsylvania Hospital (Dr. Jenson), Senior Resident in Medicine (Dr. Fraser), and Research Fellow in Metabolism (Dr. Cristofori), Pennsylvania Hospital.

JAMA. 1962;181(4):309-312. doi:10.1001/jama.1962.03050300029006

Total fast periods of 4 to 14 days in the management of 50 cases of intractable obesity achieved a prompt decrease in body weight of approximately 2.5 lb. per day. Subsequent shorter fast periods served to prevent a recurrence of the obese state and, also, to achieve further reduction in weight in the ensuing weeks. Non-nutritious fluids were allowed ad libitum and polyvitamins were given. Exercise was interdicted. Anorexia was the rule after the first day of fasting and paralleled the degree of hyperketonemia. A sense of well-being was associated with the fast. The patient's subsequent 1- or 2-day fasts, as an outpatient promoted his reassurance that he had within his grasp a means of effectively combating what had formerly appeared to be a hopeless situation.

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