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Supersize Me!

"As Technology Marches on, Human Beings Supersize!" Such is the theme of the tome The Changing Body: Health, Nutrition, and Human Development in the Western World Since 1700, authored by Robert Vogel et al in 2011.

Their broad claim: "In most if not quite all parts of the world, the size shape and longevity of the human body have changed more substantially, and much more rapidly, during the past three centuries than over many previous millennia."

Consider these average values for an adult American male:

  • 1850s: height = 5 feet 7 inches; weight = 146 pounds; life expectancy = 45 years
  • 1980s: height = 5 feet 10 inches; weight = 174 pounds; life expectancy = 75 years
  • Question: Given the considerable changes over this 130-year period, what are your projected values (height, weight, life expectancy) for the year 2110? Explain.

    How did you factor in the authors' implication that these changes were being made at an accelerating rate?


    Note: The painting is from the Trick Art Museum, a "specialty" museum on Jeju Island, South Korea.

    Source: P. Cohen's "Technology Advances; Humans Supersize." New York Time, April 27, 2011