Americans have been making a huge diet mistake for 100 years
Standing before a room of women in Los Angeles, Lulu Hunt Peters wrote a word on a blackboard that she said held the keys to empowerment. It was a word most of her audience had never heard before. Peters insisted it was just as important as terms like "foot" and "yard," and that if they came to understand and use it, they would be serving their country and themselves.
The word was "calorie." It was 1917, and although the calorie had been used in chemistry circles for decades — and is often credited to scientists such as Wilbur Olin Atwater and Nicolas Clément — it was Peters who was responsible for popularizing the idea that all we need to become healthier is knowing how much energy is in our food and fervently cutting back the excess. But her teachings weren’t all academic. She also referred to overweight people as "fireless cookers" and accused them of hoarding the valuable wartime commodity of fat "in their own anatomy." Nevertheless, Peters' weight-loss program has become so popular that some experts worry it now eclipses more important aspects of nutrition.