Most of us were taught Aesop’s fables as children. And when someone today asks about the proper pace for “healthy” weight loss, they’ll inevitably hear a response that echoes the famous line from Aesop’s The Hare and the Tortoise – “Slow and steady wins the race.” Everyone then nods their head in agreement, of course, as who would argue with that old chestnut.
I’m guessing that there was not much obesity in the period from 620 to 560 B.C. when Aesop lived, at least not among the Greek slaves of that time (of which Aesop was one). I’m also willing to bet that Aesop was not medically trained even by the standards of his time, nor did he intend his fables to apply to medical or nutritional issues. Perhaps most importantly, earliest interpretations of Aesop’s fable indicate that the story was meant to be a commentary on qualities such as arrogance and overconfidence (the hare gets out ahead and takes a nap), the use of brain over brawn, and persistence – but not on the virtue of one’s relative pace in anything, which was purely a storytelling device.
So 2,572 years after Aesop’s death, why does his adage persist as conventional wisdom when it comes to weight loss?