Charles Atlas: unlikely public health educator
Would you take health advice from a man in leopard-print trunks? Several generations of young men have--and Charles Atlas' surprisingly on target health advice may have had more impact as a result.
Would you take health advice from a man in leopard-print trunks?
Charles Atlas' role as a health adviser reminds us that everyday people seek and encounter guidance on matters of body and mind from a mix of advisers, some conventional and some not. The fitness literature of the past (like that of the present) sometimes offered outdated advice or suggestions that conflicted with sound health practices. But in other instances it reinforced the messages being delivered by public health authorities. If we want to understand – and shape – how Americans have learned and how they continue to learn about health, we need to acknowledge and understand the complexity of the information marketplace available to them.
Elizabeth Toon teaches and researches at the University of Manchester's Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine
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