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JAMA 100 Years Ago
October 27, 1999


Author Affiliations

JenniferReiling, Editorial Assistant

JAMA. 1999;282(16):1502L. doi:10.1001/jama.282.16.1502L-JJY90034-3-1

November 25, 1899

Not long since the JOURNAL noticed the increasing girth of the average American as reported from tailors' measurements. These apparently gave evidence that at the present rate of progress the future Yankee would be of Falstaffian proportions, which, as one would naturally prefer to be an Apollo rather than an exaggerated Bacchus, is not in all respects satisfactory. We can take some satisfaction, therefore, from the recently-expressed opinion of a distinguished Italian authority, Professor Angelo Mosso, who finds Americans far better developed and stronger than his countrymen, and who speaks of physical education being carried here to perfection. As an Alpinist of some reputation, as well as noted physiologist, Professor Mosso's opinions on this subject, however flattering, are entitled to respect, and we may comfort ourselves accordingly. Still another authority, not as high in medicine but undoubtedly a competent observer, Mr. Julian Ralph, has also noted the contrast between English and American women and children, the latter being, according to him, much better developed and more healthy than the former, the English boys being apt to be "runts" in comparison with the American boys at the same age. The stature of American women and their superior health is also, he says, a matter of astonishment to foreigners. When we read the jeremiads of certain medical writers in this country the above may come to us as a sort of comfort; we may not be as bad off as we had thought. The question arises, however, whether in our improving development we are to see a product like Hawthorne's celebrated description of the British matron, a result not to be earnestly desired. Let us hope that climatic and other influences, while perfecting the race, will also save us from any altogether unesthetic results.