Sunday, March 24, 2013

What We Think We Know...about Victorians

Every somewhat literate US citizen "knows" we live longer than past generations.  We also "know" that the average height has been slowly increasing since, well, forever, as our nutrition improves.

As I told my classes full of juvenile delinquents at the beginning of the term, says who? Do we indeed live longer and stand taller than previous generations.  Hm.  I think the Masai give the lie to the "modern Westerners are the tallest people ever idea.

This article  on the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health site claims that Victorians in general lived longer and were healthier than many modern Westerners, including US citizens.  Diet is the reason claimed, though of course this of course might not in fact be the cause.  Worth a read, in any case.

H/T to Pergelator for the story.


charlotte g said...

Didn't find THAT link, but much more of interest. I have thought for awhile the pre-packaged, nitrate and sodium laden foods are going to lower our length of the quality of life in a few years. Medicine may extend those lives, if people want to do that and can afford it.
I want some organic potatoes. I hear they are more delicious. I want to grow my own, and cook from scratch even if the mass producers do it better and tastier.
I can do it healthier.

J.R.Shirley said...

Well, I believe the conclusions these particular researchers came to especially blamed higher fat in the lower-cost tinned meats and the new availability/low cost of sugared foods.

Anonymous said...

Never mind the Victorians, look at the Medieval Era; if you factor out infant mortality and women of child-bearing age, your average life-span gets awfully close to the modern one. In fact it is closer to the modern one than the average during the Industrial Revolution. The real killer was infection; if you avoided that then living into your 60's or 70's was entirely probable. (now, I suppose it is cheating to factor out half of the population...but!)
Quality of life in Europe takes a serious nose-dive around 1700 due to population pressure (the population having finally climbed back past pre-Plague levels), and only slowly rebounds.
My favorite example for classes was a Scottish earl from the 1300's, he died in battle at about age 80.

J.R.Shirley said...

Good example. I hear Scotland is the white man's Africa. :-)