"I believe no Age did ever afford more Instances of Corpulency than our own." Physician Thomas Short, writing in 1727.
Today the language may be less quaint, but the sentiments are echoed repeatedly in the media, in Government and in medical reports all over the world.
The obesity epidemic has arrived - but obesity is as old as mankind, and in a new four-part series, Dr Hilary Jones looks back into its history, and asks what can we learn today from the mistakes and successes of our overweight ancestors.
We start with an investigation of the immensely corpulent individuals who put themselves on show to the public.
It begins in Stamford - scene of the death and extraordinary burial of Daniel Lambert, hailed in 1809 as "the most corpulent man in the history of the world".
Prof Vanessa Toulmin, of the National Fairground Archive, and Prof David Haslam, Chair of the National Obesity Forum, explore the world of the circus fat folk.
And from America, we hear a snatch of the Strates Carnival in 1941, featuring Big Bertha and Slim Jim, "the world's strangest married couple".
Times have changed, and nowadays the idea of obese individuals exhibiting in freak shows is highly uncomfortable.
But is the portrayal of obesity in sensationalist, prurient tabloid articles, and on TV, the modern-day equivalent of the freak show?
Future programmes focus on depictions of obesity in art, music and literature; diets through the ages; and the weird, wonderful and downright dangerous obesity remedies of the past.
Readings by Toby Longworth and Michael Fenton-stevens.
Producer: Susan Kenyon
A Ladbroke production for BBC Radio 4.
Dr Hilary Jones investigates the obese individuals who put themselves on show at carnivals.