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December 11, 1987

Tuberculosis and Body Build

Author Affiliations

Division of Tuberculosis Control Centers for Disease Control Atlanta

Division of Tuberculosis Control Centers for Disease Control Atlanta

JAMA. 1987;258(22):3299. doi:10.1001/jama.1987.03400220099047

In a recent editorial, Comstock1 said lean, underweight tuberculin reactors have a significantly higher risk of developing tuberculosis than persons above, or at, ideal body weight. Because many physicians may be unfamiliar with the data that support this assertion, a short review of the relevant literature seems appropriate.

The notion that a certain kind of body build predisposes a person to tuberculosis dates back at least to Hippocrates.2 In the early part of this century, Reed and Love3 studied US Army recruits before and during World War I and found that tuberculosis developed much more frequently among men who were tall and thin than those who were short and heavyset. This build was not thought to be a result of tuberculosis since it was present long before disease became clinically evident. Similar findings were reported by Long and Jablon4 among men entering the army during World