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February 3, 1900


JAMA. 1900;XXXIV(5):302-303. doi:10.1001/jama.1900.02460050048015

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The temperance workers of the W. C. T. U. are somewhat agitated over the alleged statement of Professor Atwater, that alcohol is a food and that therefore the teachings of the physiologic text-books to the contrary are incorrect. The antitemperance people are correspondingly elated by his findings, and make the most of them. It seems to us that there is as little basis for alarm on the one hand as for elation on the other, especially when Professor Atwater has expressly said that he believed alcohol an excellent thing for healthy persons to let alone. The whole agitation depends on the signification of the word, "food." If it means anything that is oxidized and used up to any extent in the human body, it will include a very great many unwholesome and unpleasant substances besides alcohol. A man could support life on carrion, for example, and there are other substances

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