Much has been written about 19th century African American and white statures and body mass index values. However, little is known about their physical activity and calories required to sustain height and weight. This paper considers two alternative measures for biological conditions that address physical activity and available calories: basal metabolic rate and energy accounting. African-Americans had greater BMRs and required more calories per day than whites. Farmers and unskilled workers were in better physical condition and required more calories per day than workers in white-collar and skilled occupations. Nineteenth century BMRs and calories were greater in rural locations where greater physical activity was required and more calories were available.
nutrition energy accounting Basal Metabolic Rate US economic development