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September 8, 2004

Corpulence and Carbs in 1892

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Robert M. Golub, MD, Senior Editor.

JAMA. 2004;292(10):1174. doi:10.1001/jama.292.10.1174-a

To the Editor: Excerpts from an English manual of home medicine in 1892.1 Plus ça change?

A moderate amount of fat is one of the signs of health . . . in excess (it) becomes not only burdensome and unsightly, but a real and serious evil. . . . It is said that hereditary tendency exercises a marked influence in the production of corpulence, and . . . race, again, is an important element in the question: the Americans are remarkable for their thinness, and the Arabs are almost destitute of fat; whilst on the other hand Europeans, and more especially the English and Dutch, are proverbial for the fullness of their figures.