A short time ago two Pittsburgh physiciansDoctors Evans and Stranggave to the medical world- a new method for the treatment of overweight, which has caused widespread interest and comment. It is of importance, therefore, that they have just published a method for the treatment of underweight.
Why are some people chronically underweight? Of course, many are so on account of the existence of organic disease, unsuspected or present in a latent form, such as tuberculosis or chronic infection in the sinuses of the nose. But these are not the cases to which reference is made. There is a type which is “born thin” and individuals who have acquired that build tell us that no matter what they do or how much they eat they stay thin.
Investigators Strang and Evans doubt that. Their studies have convinced them that if such persons get enough to eatand by enough is meant more intake than outgoand reduce their activities, they will gain in weight quite steadily.
Three explanations of the cause of this state of under-nutrition have been suggested(1) the heredity-posture factor; (2) the endocrine factor; and (3) the central nervous system factor (for instance, nervous lack of appetite”anorexia nervosa”).
Investigators Strang and Evans, as has been said, look with suspicion on all three of these; at least they find that by feeding enough of the right kind of food the condition can be overcome irrespective of the cause.
Still one may be permitted a doubt especially about the “hereditary-bodily-build-posture” factor. In the southern part of my state there is a breed of hog called the “razorback,” on account of his extreme leanness. My state is Missouri, sometimes called the “Show-me” state, and it would be rather difficult to show most of my fellow citizens that you could turn a razorback into a typical hog of desirably fat proportions, no matter what you did to it.
The question of posture is certainly important. Surveys of school childrenfor instance, the Chelsea, Mass., survey which studied 2,200 childrenshow that.
“The stocky children had the largest percentage of good posture and the slender children the smallest.”
This is suggestive also as a measure of prevention. If posture is improved in childhood the tendency towards undernutrition will be counteracted.
Treatment as advocated by Strang and Evans, consists entirely of diet and control of rest. If the total daily calories can be raised to 3,000 or 3,500 and the energy lowered 500 to 1,000 calories a day, a weight gain of two to three pounds a week follows. The investigators have not used the new insulin treatment (described on pages 53, 54) at all. The diet should be adequate in proteins, vitamins and salts. Fresh vegetables, butter, beef, eggs, milk, wheat products were the staples of diet.
Undoubtedly the yearner for enough pounds has almost as hard a row as the reducer. No movies, no dances, no swimming or tennisjust early to bed and late to rise.