'Ponderax' skin fold callipers, obesity booklet and eating guides, Harrow, England, 1967

1967 in Harrow

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Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Four items relating to Ponderax (fenfluramine) and Servier Laboratories Ltd. Comprising: Mark 2 Skinfold Calipers in plastic casing, "Obesity its Causation and Treatment" booklet, Ponderax and Servier Unit Eating Guide, Sales letter to Ann Dally from Servier Labs Ltd. From effects of psychiatrist Ann Dally.

These objects form part of the ‘Ponderax’ weight loss plan. The plan promoted weight loss through a combination of diet, mainly restricting carbohydrates, and the ‘Ponderax’ drug. This was an appetite suppressant called fenfluramine. The plastic skin fold callipers carried out a ‘pinch test’ to determine the patient’s level of obesity. This was used to calculate the dosage of Ponderax. The Ponderax diet worked on a unit system much like popular weight loss programmes today. Each food is allocated a unit value. These are counted throughout the day. Calorific intake is reduced and unit allowance is not exceeded. Foods are also grouped by the colours red, amber and green. These indicate their health value.

Ponderax proved controversial. The drug was linked to thickening of the arteries in some patients. It was produced by Servier Laboratories Limited, France. The weight loss plan is accompanied by a sales letter, dated 1967. The letter is to controversial psychiatrist and medical author Dr Ann Dally (1929-2007).

Related people


Psychology, Psychiatry & Anthropometry
Object Number:
paper and plastic
  • furnishing and equipment
  • measuring device - instrument
  • visual and verbal communication
  • visual and verbal communication
Wellcome Trust

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