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JAMA 100 Years Ago
September 26, 2007


Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2007;298(12):1459. doi:10.1001/jama.298.12.1459-b

Among the papers read at the recent meeting of the British Medical Association was one of special interest from a medical point of view by Mr. J. Gray on “Anthropomorphics in Schools; the Problem of National Evolution.” The gist of Mr. Gray's argument may be summed up in the statement that how best to improve the conditions of the people is a biologic rather than an economic problem. Measures for the improvement of the people in the abstract are all more or less Utopian. Great Britain, said Mr. Gray, has cheap food in consequence of its free trade; sanitary reforms have given it healthy towns; cheap locomotion has enabled the town dwellers occasionally to get away from their environment into the country, and now it has to discuss such questions as free meals for school children and the employment of the unemployed by the state—reforms directed to the benefits of particular classes. This indicates an alarming condition of deterioration that demands immediate attention, which must be directed, he thought, toward the establishment of a sound national physique, as more important than a sound national finance. Dr. F. C. Shrubsall urged the necessity of anthropometry in the schools as essential to a wide study of large factors of environment, and Sir Victor Horsley added a resolution calling on the government to undertake a system of periodical measurement of school children in connection with their medical inspection, so as to provide definite information on their physical condition and development. There is a general awakening to the fact that the school is the proper field, and must be the most fruitful one, both for investigation into human economics and for the practical application of the principles deduced therefrom.

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