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Morbid obesity also occurred in Rome

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Bust of a Roman woman from around 80 CE
Bust of a Roman woman from around 80 CE

Morbid obesity, considered a modern “epidemic”, also occurred naturally in ancient Rome. Galen, a Roman physician of Greek origin from the 2nd century CE, undertook the treatment of obesity.

He classified overweight people as obese (Greek pachis), overweight (Greek efsarkos) and very obese (Greek polysarkos). A person polysarkos has too much fat in his opinion and, as he pointed out in his work “De methodo medendi”, it is impossible not to sweat while walking, cannot reach the table due to excessive belly, has trouble breathing calmly, is unable to give birth to a child and is unable to take care of her own hygiene.

Polysarkos has been characterized as a person who has limited life possibilities and cannot function in a normal way. So it was morbid obesity.

  • Niki Papavramidou, Galen on Obesity: Etiology, Effects, and Treatment

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