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JAMA 100 Years Ago
April 12, 2006


JAMA. 2006;295(14):1716. doi:10.1001/jama.295.14.1716

There is probably no better—certainly there is no simpler—sign of the condition of an ordinary individual's health up to middle life than his weight. There is no absolute measure of weight for each individual, for it depends on personal peculiarities and on family characteristics; but a definite idea of what any individual's weight should be according to his height can be obtained, and then variations from this normal are important indications of the state of health. This is especially true with regard to children. Children's weight should bear a definite relation to their height, there being a slight difference between males and females in this respect, and with the increase in height there should be a corresponding increase in weight. Any variation from this should at once give rise to the suspicion of a distinct impairment of physical condition and should be the signal for lessening the burdens, educational, laborious or athletic, that the growing child has to bear. Notwithstanding its importance, however, weight is apt to be neglected in the list of symptoms presented to the physician. A mother will tell much about the child's habits, waking and sleeping, and much more about the tendencies that the child is supposed to inherit, but she is not apt to have noticed anything with regard to the child's weight nor to know whether there has been a cessation of that normal increase which accompanies growth in healthy children.

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