Boswell’s BMI?

Boswell’s entry in the ODNB reads that he "stood about 5 feet 6 inches tall, and his weight at 1776 was recorded as 11 stone 12lbs". He was 36 at the time, and his BMI (Body Mass Index) … …being 26.8, he must be called overweight. But Boswell didn’t die of any of the diseases that this figure would make him liable to suffer from: according to the ODNB he died (at the age of 55) from what we would nowadays diagnose as uraemia, "the result of acute and chronic urinary tract infection, secondary to postgonorrheal urethral stricture". Though we know less about Boswell’s father’s way of life, this is also what Alexander Boswell died from (see the ODNB entry on him), and what Thackeray would die from a century later.


{ Leave a Reply ? }

  1. Froukje

    Just as a note: a bmi in the range between 25 and 27 is actually considered healthier than an underweight bmi by some physicians. Mostly because being slightly overweight does not necessarily coincide with the well-known dangers to one’s health such as high blood-pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes associated with obesity, whereas someone who is underweight has a severe risk of not being strong enough to cope with simple diseases such as the flu. Boswell was overweight but only slightly (12 lbs).

    Interestingly, in the documentary which can be seen here:
    (part 1 of 6 parts), the health risks of the eating habits of the Regency period are explored by “The Supersizers go Regency”. The gout and liver-disease inducing food of the Regency period can be assumed to be comparable to the food habits of the Eighteenth century…

    I’m not sure how anyone would manage to stay healthy, under- or overweight…

Leave a Reply