Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 08 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter outlines several important body mass index (BMI) studies. A historical BMI composite is constructed for U.S. BMIs between the Civil War and World War I. Nineteenth-century BMIs were lower than modern BMIs, and by modern standards, historical obesity rates were limited. The BMI is an alternative source to highlight nineteenth-century health status. Existing historical BMI studies show that BMI values were linked to mortality risk and symmetrically distributed, that blacks had greater BMI values than whites, and that rural farmers had greater BMI values than other nineteenth-century workers. Throughout the life cycle, historical working classes were less likely to be underweight or obese and were in healthier BMI ranges throughout life. Morbid obesity in modern populations is more common than the historical likelihood of being underweight. Future BMI studies will continue to explore the relationship between BMIs, ethnicity, and the historical relationship across economies.

Keywords: body mass index, obesity, Civil War, World War I, mortality, ethnicity

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.