Abstract

Body mass index (BMI ) values reflect the net balance between nutrition, work effort, and calories consumed to fight disease. Nineteenth-century prison records in the United States demonstrate that the BMI values of blacks and whites were distributed symmetrically; neither underweight nor obese individuals were common among the working class. BMI values declined throughout the nineteenth century. By modern standards, however, nineteenth-century BMI s were in healthy weight ranges, though the biological living standards in rural areas exceeded those in urban areas. The increase in BMI s during the twentieth century did not have its origin in the nineteenth century.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1530-9169
Print ISSN
0022-1953
Pages
pp. 371-391
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-29
Open Access
No
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