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JAMA 100 Years Ago
August 9, 2006


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2006;296(6):712. doi:10.1001/jama.296.6.712-b

Much of the disease in the world is commonly attributed to errors in diet, both as regards quantity and quality. It is also usually supposed that the sufferings of poverty are largely connected with insufficient nutriment and much is said about the extravagance of the rich and the hunger of the poor as contributing to the miseries of this life. It is rather interesting, therefore, to hear from philanthropic workers, who may be supposed to know what they are talking about, that a large portion of the illness of poverty-stricken New Yorkers is due to over-eating. There is plenty of malnutrition and undoubtedly some actual starvation in the slums, but this testimony indicates that it is more exceptional than has been generally supposed. In this country we have never had anything like the famine conditions that exist is [sic ] some parts of the world. We must consider, however, that the evil effects of over-eating referred to may not be due to the constant practice of gorging, but to the occasional excesses, and in this the very poor are as likely to indulge, when occasion offers, as any other class. Without condoning anything that the rich may do in this line, it is probably safe to say that the dietetic extravagances and eccentricities of even the very poor in many of our communities need correction. Most dispensary physicians could probably give some testimony on this point. In fact, the poor probably need instruction as to temperance in diet almost as much as to temperance in stimulants and their necessitated irregularities are only a part of the conditions in this regard which need reform.

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