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Racial differences in body mass indices of men imprisoned in 19th Century Texas

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  • Carson, Scott Alan
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    Abstract

    A limited amount of research has been done on the body mass index values of 19th century Americans. This paper uses Texas prison records to demonstrate that, in contrast to today's distributions, most BMI values were in the normal range. Only 21.5% and 1.2% of the population was overweight or obese, while today comparable figures are 36% and 23%. There was also little change in BMI values between 1876 and 1919. Farmers were consistently heavier than non-farmers, while Southwestern men had lower BMI values than their counterparts from other regions of the US. BMI values indicate that 19th century African-Americans, and whites populations were well fed in spite of large expenditures on energy.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics & Human Biology.

    Volume (Year): 7 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1 (March)
    Pages: 121-127

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ehbiol:v:7:y:2009:i:1:p:121-127

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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    Keywords: Body mass index 19th Century American South Racial disparity African-Americans US Texas;

    References

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    1. John Komlos, . "The Height and Weight of West Point Cadets: Dietary Change in Antebellum America," Articles by John Komlos 32, Department of Economics, University of Munich.
    2. Fogel, Robert W, 1994. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 369-95, June.
    3. Lee, Chulhee, 1997. "Socioeconomic Background, Disease, and Mortality among Union Army Recruits: Implications for Economic and Demographic History," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 27-55, January.
    4. Dora L. Costa, 2002. "The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample," NBER Working Papers 8843, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Costa Dora L., 1993. "Height, Weight, Wartime Stress, and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Union Army Records," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 30(4), pages 424-449, October.
    6. Carson, Scott Alan, 2007. "Mexican body mass index values in the late-19th-century American West," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 37-47, March.
    7. Komlos, John & Coclanis, Peter, 1997. "On the Puzzling Cycle in the Biological Standard of Living: The Case of Antebellum Georgia," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 433-459, October.
    8. Steckel, Richard H., 1986. "A Peculiar Population: The Nutrition, Health, and Mortality of American Slaves from Childhood to Maturity," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 46(03), pages 721-741, September.
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    Cited by:
    1. Carson, Scott Alan, 2011. "Height of female Americans in the 19th century and the antebellum puzzle," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(2), pages 157-164, March.
    2. Scott A. Carson, 2013. "Black and White Body Mass Index Values in Developing 19th Century Nebraska," CESifo Working Paper Series 4268, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Kalist, David E. & Siahaan, Freddy, 2013. "The association of obesity with the likelihood of arrest for young adults," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 8-17.
    4. Carson, Scott Alan, 2013. "Body mass, wealth, and inequality in the 19th century: Joining the debate surrounding equality and health," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 11(1), pages 90-94.
    5. Bodenhorn, Howard, 2010. "Height, weight and body mass index values of mid-19th century New York legislative officers," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(2), pages 291-293, July.
    6. Bodenhorn, Howard, 2010. "Height and body mass index values of nineteenth-century New York legislators," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 8(1), pages 121-126, March.
    7. John Komlos & Marek Brabec, 2010. "The Trend of BMI Values among US Adults," CESifo Working Paper Series 2987, CESifo Group Munich.
    8. Komlos, John & Brabec, Marek, 2011. "The trend of BMI values of US adults by deciles, birth cohorts 1882-1986 stratified by gender and ethnicity," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 234-250, July.

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