Height and Goiter: two endemic characteristics of the French Alpine population under the First Empire

Sylvain Sick

Abstract


This article examineds the health of the 'new French' under the Consulate and Empire, as reflected in the records of the recruitment process of the 'grognards' and their health checks. This phase of the selection process was repeated annually for all age groups between 1798 and 1813 as recorded in the reports of the health officers, reflecting the different characteristics of each Département. For example, the men of the Léman appeared taller than their Mont-Blanc neighbours, who were also more subject to goiter, the two endemic problems which will be examined here. Contemporary sources agreed that small size, due to a lateness of growth, and goiter, due to a lack of iodine and a malfunction of the thyroidal gland, were two important reasons for the reform of the Imperial armies. This paper compares the health reports on size and goiter in these two neighbouring Départements and then examines them within the wider national context to discover how far these characteristics were peculiar to Alpine Départements.

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