Parcimony in Nutrition:

1909 Journal of the American Medical Association  
This book is frankly polemical. It is a reply to the arguments of Horace Fletcher and of Professor Chittenden of Yale, who maintain that much less proteid food is needed than is prescribed in the standard diets of Voit and Atwater. Chittenden's experiments and conclusions are interesting and the latter tempting to the medical man who frequently has to prescribe for patients with stomach disorders and who has learned that he can contribute greatly to their comfort and ultimately lead them to
more » ... ly lead them to recovery chiefly by curtailing the quantity of food which they eat. Crichton-Browne's arguments are chiefly these: "First, that it is an initial objection to Chittenden's view which is not easily met that it contravenes all human experience." The standard diets of Voit and Atwater represent the average usage of civilized men; at least those of Europe and America. Crichton-Browne has collected statistics which seem to show that even in Japan to-day practically the same proportion of nitrogen per pound of body weight is con¬ sumed as would be used on Voit's standard. He raises the ques¬ tion whether the long ages during which they have been vege¬ tarians has not led to their diminutive stature, apparently for¬ getting that Buddhists in China and India are large men but have been as strict vegetarians for as long or a longer time. The second contention is that a diet rich in proteids makes for physical and mental energy. Third, Crichton-Browne points to the ill effects, both mental and physical, of the insufficient diet of English prisons, where the proteids are furnished in about the quantity prescribed by Chittenden or a little larger. But he overlooks the fact that in diets one and two of the prisons the total calories is too small and may account for the ill condition of prisoners rather than proteid deficiency. Moreover, that other factors than the quantity of food have to do with it is shown by the complaints of star patients whose food furnished more than twice as much proteid as Chittenden recommends and 2,398 calories. Fourth, Crichton-Browne urges that "busy men have not time to go to bed and starve for two or three days when they have not appetite, nor can they devote a large portion of their lives to mastication." His argument is not very conclusive. Fifth, he says, "There has not yet been time for any con¬ vincing proof of the utility or even safety of the reduced proteid diet." He thinks that ill effects may develop in late life which can be ascribed to such dietetic restriction. But all this is problematic. If we do not know that the restricted diet is useful or safe, neither do we know that it is harmful. Chit¬ tenden's experiments, which extended over six months and more, show that there was no immediate ill effect and that none developed during that time. Crichton-Browne says of Chittenden's dogs: "They led a placid and cloistered existence and so asceticism probably suited them. Not until a pack of foxhounds have got satisfactorily through a winter's work on Chittenden's reduced diet can his experiments be accepted as anything more than a curious physiologic feat." Sixth, he points to the natural diet of the infant at the breast, where the child gets of proteid what would be equiv¬ alent for a man of 150 pounds, from 122 to 145 grams; more than twice the allowance made by Chittenden for man. Lastly, he points to the good effects of forced feeding in tuberculosis and neurasthenia and after infections. He believes that there is no evidence of an accumulation of clinkers because of the heavy stoking. This little book is well worth reading and considering. As stated, the book is polemical, and like all such it has the faults of a debate and it awakes contention in its readers. It is well, however, for physicians and laymen to halt and consider care¬ fully the pros and cons of this subject. Life's Day. The fanciful title of this book suggests that it was intended for non-medical readers; and the foreword explains that it is based on a series of lectures delivered at Chautauqua. It appears to be designed especially to enlarge the mental horizon of those who have much leisure and little information; it treats sketchily the subjects of heredity, environment, edu-cation, infancy, childhood, the "irresponsible age," adolescence, middle age and old age. A little biology, a little physiology, a little hygienic theory and precept, liberally sprinkled with quotations from poets and men of science, make up a volume which will be found, by those who like that kind of thing, to be just the kind of thing they like. Dr. Bainbridge has an agreeable style, and says that he is not a faddist or an overzealous enthusiast, but merely an earnest advocate of common sense and moderation in all things. The Theory and Practice of Infant Feeding.
doi:10.1001/jama.1909.02540490053024 fatcat:rxktupj4sfghrckb5zfzd3qd4i