This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
There are some occupations which are more or less closely connected with dietetics. Workers in lead, plumbers, painters, polishers, pottery glaziers, et al, should be taught to be very careful to cleanse the clothing, hands, and especially their finger nails, before eating. The soft crumb of bread getting under the nails easily becomes contaminated with lead salts, which by this means are conveyed to the stomach, where the white-lead carbonate, which is insoluble in water, is dissolved by the gastric juice into a more dangerous chloride. Workers in dyestuffs, artificial flowers, green wall papers, and other materials in which arsenic is used, should be similarly careful, and should never be permitted to bring their food into the workrooms.
The following Table, compiled by A. P. Bryant for the Yearbook of the U. S. Department of Agriculture for i898, presents a Comparison of the Average Food Consumption of People of Different Occupations or in Different Conditions of Life.
(Per man per day)
Average of 10 farmers' families in Vermont, Connecticut, and New York........................
Average of 14 mechanics' families in Connecticut, New Jersey,
Tennesse and Indiana .....
Average of 14 professional men's families in Connecticut, Penn- sylvania, Indiana, and Illinois..
Average of 15 college clubs in Maine, Connecticut, Tennessee, and Missouri
Average of above 53 studies
Average of 2 labourers' families in New york city
Average of 11 poor families in
New york city
Average of 2 labourers' families, very poor, in Pittsburg, pa
Average of 2 labourers families, more comfortable circumstances, in Pittsburg, pa
Average of 12 negro families in
Average of 4 Italian families in
Average of 5 French Canadian families in Chicago. Ill
Average of 4 families of Russian
Jews in Chicago, Ill
Average of 8 Bohemian families in Chicago, Ill
Some occupations - those of foundrymen, stokers, and porcelain manufacturers - necessitate exposure to extremely high temperatures. Profuse sweating results, and thirst. The thirst is quenched by subsequently drinking enormous quantities of fluid, which should be water or oatmeal water, not too cold, rather than beer or other alcoholic beverages. Their lives at best are apt to be shortened by the suddenness and severity of the changes to which their kidneys and circulation are subjected, and a resort to alcohol is soon fatal.
Tea tasters acquire more or less poisoning, although they do not swallow the beverage, for a good deal is absorbed by the mucous membrane of the mouth. The symptoms are insomnia, nightmare, headache, "nervousness," tremors, dyspepsia, and constipation. Even smelling the tea infusions constantly is poisonous to some sensitive persons (Chambers). To mitigate the danger they should eat abundantly before exposing themselves to the noxious effects of their occupation.
Among other diseases occasioned by the handling of food products may be mentioned the grocer's itch, from handling low grades of sugar (now much less common than formerly, owing to better methods of refining), and the bronchial diseases produced by the inhalation of flour and grain dust in grist mills and grain elevators.
There are, in addition, many occupations which directly interfere with the proper digestion of food, such as those of tailors and shoemakers, whose cramped positions compress the abdominal viscera and impede full respiratory action. Their discomfort from dyspepsia and flatulency teaches them to avoid eating vegetables and sweets.
All occupations conducted in close, ill-ventilated apartments are injurious by depriving the individual of sufficient oxygen to consume the food products in the system.