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The 17th Century Celebration of Gluttony Got Obesity Accepted among the Aristocracy

In the US the prominence of overweight and obesity is great, that Americans have come to accept obesity as a diversity issue. Nothing can be more erroneous. The Medical fields are unanimous in regarding obesity to a serious health issue with secondary chronic diseases that increase disabilities and the likelihood of an early death


Obesity originated in the 1600s, at a time when the pleasure of food was immoderately celebrated by the nobility. It was during that time that French cuisine spread to the kitchens of European aristocracies.

Obesity became Accepted in the 17th Century.

Obesity originated in the 1600s, at a time when the pleasure of food, was immoderately celebrated by the nobility. Indeed, in the 17th century, French cuisine spread to the kitchens of the European aristocracies, with literary works like Le Cuisinier Francais, describing and defending the pleasure of food and drink. These early cookbooks propelled into the popular realm culinary experimentation aimed at cultivating and exciting the palates (Flandrin, 1999). And, so they did, but not without leading many to overindulge.

The cultural celebration of gluttony reached its apex among aristocracies around Europe with the publication of Grimod de La Reynière’s Alamach des gourmands in 1804. It was the crowning literary work for the lovers of food and drink. Jean-Louis Flandrin (1999), Professor Emeritus at the University of Paris depicts the impact of the Alamach:

“…it became possible to admit without shame to what once had been considered the deadly sin of gluttony.”

Flandrin points out that the term gourmand (gluttonous, in English) was changed to gourmet, a word which had no pejorative sting, and which even conveyed a touch of sophistication. And so, to be gluttonous became acceptable, a new social norm that flew in the face of the Catholic church’s moral teachings that it had upheld for centuries (Kishlansky et al. 1991).


David Hume had no tussle, in he 18th century, applying the skepticism generated by the materialistic philosophies to the revealed truths of the Catholic. This opened the door to the abandonment of morals. So this left everyone to interpret life and its meaning in their own way (Insatiable, 2022).

John Horvat (2013), author of Return to Order wrote that this order is important for societal growth, and must be based “…on the four cardinal virtues—prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance—since they are the moral virtues upon which all other virtues are hinged and which specifically regulate man’s use of material things.”

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