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