For most of human history, mankind struggled with food scarcity. The poor and the working class were seldom well fed, and only the wealthy and the prosperous could afford to get their bellies full every time they ate. Obesity reigned only among the upper echelons of society. So when a commoner in 18th century England started to get morbidly fat, not only he became an anomaly but a curious attraction as well.
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Portrait of Daniel Lambert by Benjamin Marshall.