Did People Get Fat in Ancient Times?

Have you ever wondered if people got fat in ancient times? While obesity is a modern-day problem, it’s easy to assume that our ancestors didn’t struggle with weight gain due to their active lifestyles and limited access to processed foods. However, the truth is that people did get fat in ancient times, and it wasn’t always due to overeating.

What Caused Obesity in Ancient Times?

There were several factors that contributed to obesity in ancient times. One of the primary reasons was a lack of physical activity.

While our ancestors didn’t have access to modern-day conveniences like cars and elevators, they also weren’t spending hours at the gym or going for daily runs. Many jobs required little movement, such as working as a scribe or artisan.

Another factor was diet. While processed foods weren’t an issue, people still had access to high-calorie foods like honey and dried fruits. In addition, feasting was common during celebrations and religious ceremonies, leading to overeating.

Examples of Obesity in Ancient Times

There are several examples of obesity throughout history. One of the most well-known is King Henry VIII of England. In his later years, he became so large that he required a special chair with arms and padding for support.

Another example is Emperor Nero of Rome. He was described as being “fat” and “corpulent” by historians of the time. It’s said that he even had a mechanical throne that lifted him up so he could reach his food more easily.

The Health Consequences

Just like today, being overweight in ancient times came with health consequences. Historians have found evidence of heart disease and other ailments in mummies from ancient Egypt who were overweight.

In addition, obesity could lead to social consequences as well. In some cultures, being overweight was seen as a sign of wealth and success. However, in others, it was viewed as a negative trait and could lead to discrimination.


In conclusion, people did get fat in ancient times. While the causes of obesity were different than they are today, the consequences were similar.

It’s important to remember that weight gain is not a modern-day problem and has been an issue throughout history. By understanding the past, we can better understand our present-day struggles with weight and work towards creating a healthier future.