Height, Health, and History: Nutritional Status in the United Kingdom, 1750-1980
In historical accounts of the circumstances of ordinary people's lives, nutrition has been the great unknown. Nearly impossible to measure or assess directly, it has nonetheless been held responsible for the declining mortality rates of the nineteenth century as well as being a major factor in the gap in living standards, morbidity and mortality between rich and poor. The measurement of height is a means of the direct assessment of nutritional status. This important and innovative study uses a wealth of military and philanthropic data to establish the changing heights of Britons during the period of industrialization, and thus establishes an important dimension to the long-standing controversy about living standards during the Industrial Revolution. Sophisticated quantitative analysis enables the authors to present some striking conclusions about the actual physical status of the British people during a period of profound social and economic upheaval, and Height, Health and History will provide an invigorating statistical edge to many debates about the history of the human body itself.