THE MEXICAN CALORIE ALLOCATION AMONG THE WORKING CLASS IN THE AMERICAN WEST, 1870-1920

  • Scott Alan Carson

Abstract

When measures for material conditions are sparse or unreliable, height and weight measurements are now widely accepted proxies that reflect changing economic conditions. This study uses two biological measurements related to height and weight: the basal metabolic rate (BMR) and calorie accounting. BMRs and calories of Mexicans in the American West remained constant, indicating that their diets did not vary with United States economic development, but Mexican BMRs and diets varied with occupations. Farmers and unskilled workers had greater BMRs and received more calories per day than workers in other occupations. During much of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mexicans born in Mexico received fewer calories in the US than Mexicans born in the West. Mexican nutrition and diets also did not vary by residence within the US, indicating that Mexican diets were similar across western states.