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JAMA 100 Years Ago
June 9, 1999


Author Affiliations

Edited by Jennifer Reiling, Editorial Assistant.

JAMA. 1999;281(22):2069. doi:10.1001/jama.281.22.2069

Dr. HAROLD N. MOYER opened the discussion saying: Dietetics touches every branch of medicine. I desire to say a word or two about too much food or luxus consumption. We can divide persons into two classes: Those who eat too much, and those who eat too little. A large proportion of the human race fall within the class of those who eat too much; it is difficult to say what is too much. In this connection I wish to refer to a long series of observations made by a German author, whose name I can not at present recall, in which he analyzed the total nitrogenous output in relation to the food supply. He found, among certain classes of underfed peasantry, the average nitrogenous output only about half of what it was in those who were well fed. It is questionable which class is better off, those who are underfed, or those who are overfed. A careful study of cases does not tell us whether those who consume an excessive quantity of food are benefited by it any more than those who take just sufficient food to keep their tissues from absolute waste. The question of excess consumption of food is necessarily associated in many minds with an increase of uric acid or the so-called uric acid diathesis. This phase of the subject is about on its legs, and a more fashionable theory is coming into vogue, namely, auto-intoxication. I refer to the extractives of urine which contain nitrogen. Whether or not it is to be attributed to uricacidemia or auto-intoxication, there is a sort of feeling in the profession—and it is reflected in its practice—that in some way there is an accumulation of these substances in the body, and failure to eliminate them causes certain diseased processes. The deduction is then drawn that these substances would not be within the body if people did not eat too much; if, in other words, there was not a luxus consumption, and people are dieting themselves on that basis. . . .

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