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March 24, 1900


Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1900;XXXIV(12):728-730. doi:10.1001/jama.1900.24610120024001h

Physiologists are agreed that obesity is due to a perverted nutrition, and that this perversion is due to many different causes, the chief of which is heredity. It is a difficult matter to determine just where it begins and healthy nutrition ceases; but soon after the boundary line is passed we observe several concomitant ailments which are closely associated with obesity, viz., anemia, weak circulation, scanty menstruation and sterility. History shows that obesity, sterility and amenorrhea have always been associated.

Hippocrates observed that "enormous fulness of woman is responsible for their frequent sterility, and their slaves, who are lean, conceive as soon as they have connection with men." The indolent habits and rich diet of the wealthy favor obesity and sterility, while the hardships and privations of the poorer classes favor leaness and large families.

Under normal conditions about one-twentieth of the weight of the human body is made up