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Why don’t rich people eat anymore?

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses how extreme dieting and fasting have become a status symbol among the ultra-wealthy, as a way to signal their wealth and transcendence of basic human needs.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Extreme Dieting as a Status Symbol

1. What are the key ways that extreme dieting is used to signal status and wealth among the ultra-rich?

  • In the TV show Succession, the ultra-wealthy Roy family barely eats or drinks, in contrast to their less affluent guests who eagerly consume the lavish food served.
  • Prominent tech figures like Jack Dorsey and Bryan Johnson have publicly discussed extreme fasting regimes, while celebrities like Bella Hadid showcase supplement-heavy routines.
  • The weight loss drug Ozempic has become popular among the elite, with its impact on reducing food consumption seen as a status symbol.

2. How does the relationship between food and social class have historical precedents?

  • Throughout history, the types of foods associated with high status have shifted based on scarcity and accessibility - from imported spices to French cuisine.
  • Thinness was once associated with poverty, but has now become a status symbol, while obesity is more linked to the working classes.
  • The mega-rich have the resources to maintain a slim, "healthy" appearance through access to good food, time, and social validation.

3. What psychological and religious factors contribute to extreme dieting as a status symbol?

  • Demonstrating a lack of need for material goods like food is seen as a sign of spiritual and social transcendence.
  • Fasting has historical roots in Judeo-Christian traditions as a means of self-control and devotion.
  • Framing extreme eating practices as "health-conscious" makes them more socially acceptable, even when they would be considered disordered in other contexts.

[02] Dangers and Limitations of Extreme Dieting Trends

1. Why are extreme dieting trends ultimately ineffective and dangerous?

  • These trends are ultimately about performance and signaling wealth, rather than genuine health benefits.
  • There is no substitute that can completely eliminate the human need to eat, so it's better to simply enjoy food.
  • Extreme fasting and supplement regimes can be just as unhealthy as overeating, but are normalized when done by the wealthy.

2. How do these trends reflect broader societal attitudes towards food and body image?

  • Western culture continues to valorize thinness, despite the "body positivity" movement, leading to rising rates of eating disorders.
  • The food environment today makes it harder not to overeat, but the wealthy have the resources to maintain a slim appearance.
  • What is considered "normal" or "abnormal" eating is largely dependent on how the practices are framed, rather than objective health standards.
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