The shifting, amorphous definitions of obesity across different times and places provide important evidence for historical and social variability in perspectives on disease. In an effort to discern patterns amid such variability, cultural historians and historical sociologists, much like some of the historical figures they study, have charted the complicated kinships between such popular idioms as “stout,” “gross,” or “fat,” on the one hand, and such specialist terms as “corpulent,” “obese,” or “adipose,” on the other (Aronson 1984; Bray 1990; Davenport 1923; Schwartz 1986; Turner 1982, 1985). Early twentieth-century biomedical researchers, for the most part, assumed a categorical distinction between the former and the latter, maintaining that “[p]opular conceptions rest on unorganized groupings” of haphazard experience, whereas scientific observation “depends on a complete, artistic, and sure schooling of the eyes” (Ernst Kretschmer, quoted in Tucker and Lessa 1940:411–112). More than most other conditions that medical researchers and practitioners have regarded as signs of illness, obesity has spanned the full breadth of theoretical and instrumental options available to professionals, past and present, for identifying or treating disorders (Ackerknecht 1973; Ayers 1958; Sigerist  1989). It has also ranged across the entire spectrum of policy initiatives, moral judgments, and personal decisions associated respectively with each of these options.