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How the Mid-Victorians Worked, Ate and Died


Clayton, Paul and Judith Rowbotham

Original publication date: 2009
Original publisher: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2009, 6, 1235-1253
Publication status: Public domain


Analysis of the mid-Victorian period in the U.K. reveals that life expectancy at age 5 was as good or better than exists today, and the incidence of degenerative disease was 10% of ours. Their levels of physical activity and hence calorific intakes were approximately twice ours. They had relatively little access to alcohol and tobacco; and due to their correspondingly high intake of fruits, whole grains, oily fish and vegetables, they consumed levels of micro- and phytonutrients at approximately ten times the levels considered normal today. This paper relates the nutritional status of the mid-Victorians to their freedom from degenerative disease; and extrapolates recommendations for the cost effective improvement of public health today.

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