Ideal bodies vary across cultures and time.   In the U.S. today, childhood obesity is considered a significant social problem and is widely covered in the news, on talk shows, and the like.  When food was more scarce, however, having a fat child was a sign of health and well-being.  This ad, from 1898, is for a tonic that will fatten up your child.  How times change.

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Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

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