Hints from the Health Department. Leaflet from the archive of the Society of Medical Officers of Health. Credit: Wellcome Collection, London
[Report of the Medical Officer of Health for London County Council]
Annual Report of the London County Council, 1912.
|Clothing.||Nutrition.||Condition of Cleanliness.||Condition of Teeth.|
It will be observed that in cleanliness and condition of clothing there is very little difference
to be noted either in age or sex, and this would be expected, inasmuch as these conditions have little
relationship to school influence or to bodily development.
With regard to nutrition, it is to be noted that a much greater proportion of children in the
middle age group are reported as poor and a much lower proportion as good than amongst the infants
and oldest children. This corresponds with the findings in anaemia and malnutrition (which is really
a lower class in nutrition than poor) and, as stated above, there is not at present any explanation of
this remarkable fact.
With regard to condition of teeth it is also to be noted that the middle age group show the
most unsatisfactory results. This, of course, admits of the easy explanation that they are at the age
in which the milk teeth are being shed and that in too many cases this is attended by caries of the
deciduous teeth with consequent sepsis of the mouth, which in a certain number of cases spontaneously
improves after shedding of the teeth, this improvement, of course, being largely dependent upon
whether the caries has spread to the permanent teeth or not.
Heights and weights.—The standards of height and weight in use in London are based upon
a set of curves prepared from the measurements made in London schools of 18,000 children distributed
over various ages and published in the Report of the Medical Officer (Education) for the year 1906.
The figures now available for 1911 are based upon the largest set of simultaneous measurements
of children of particular age groups that have ever been recorded in this or any other country. It is,
therefore, of extreme interest to compare them with the previous standards which are based upon
much smaller numbers.
In doing so it is necessary to determine with some accuracy the average age of the children
measured. The older age group were children who reached the age of 12 during the calendar vear, but
as the inspection of this group was completed in the early part of the year the average age would be
ll¾ at the time they were measured.
The younger age group consisted of children arriving at their eighth birthday during the year,
and as their examination was pretty evenly distributed over the year their average age would be 8 at
the time of measurement. Compared with the standard the present measurements are extremely
close, in no instance is the difference between the two sets of averages more than a fraction of a centimetre,
while the weights are so close that they may be called identical. This shows that the 1906
measurements are sufficiently representative of the whole of the school population and may be
relied upon as standards over the ages 7 to 14.
Certain figures have been collected by Drs. Tuxford and Glegg from measurements of children
examined under the Education (Administrative Provisions) Act throughout the country ; by charting
these upon a curve the measurements of children at the ages corresponding to the children measured
in London have been deduced and are shown below.
The 1911 measurements in London show amongst children aged 7 to 9 that the boys are taller
and heavier than the girls, the average being—Height, 118.62cm. boys and 118.14cm. girls; weight,
22.20 kilos boys, 21.64 kilos girls. In Holborn, City of London, Hackney, Poplar and Paddington
the average height of the girls measured exceeds that of the boys, but in none of the boroughs does
the average weight of the girls exceed that of the boys. In the 11-12 group the girls are found to be
taller and heavier. The average for London in this group is—Height, boys, 136.14 cm. ; girls, 137.32
cm. Weight, boys, 30.57 kilos; girls, 30.77 kilos.
In every district in London the girls at this age were found to be taller than the boys, but in
Lewisham, Deptford, Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, Holborn, Finsbury, St. Pancras, Stoke Newington
and Chelsea the boys were on the average slightly heavier.