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

  • Carson, Scott Alan
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    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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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B73DX-4VGPVWJ-1/2/413811b3004fd5803be3fe879ec86e21
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    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
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622964

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    1. Fogel, Robert W., 1993. "Economic Growth, Population Theory, and Physiology: The Bearing of Long-Term Processes on the Making of Economic Policy," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1993-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
    2. 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.
    3. Komlos, John, 1987. "The Height and Weight of West Point Cadets: Dietary Change in Antebellum America," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(04), pages 897-927, December.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. John Komlos & Ariane Breitfelder & Marco Sunder, 2008. "The Transition to Post-industrial BMI Values Among US Children," NBER Working Papers 13898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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. Sunder, Marco, 2004. "The height of Tennessee convicts: another piece of the "antebellum puzzle"," Economics & Human Biology, Elsevier, vol. 2(1), pages 75-86, March.
    9. Costa, Dora L., 2004. "The Measure of Man and Older Age Mortality: Evidence from the Gould Sample," The Journal of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 64(01), pages 1-23, March.
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