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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Glasgow experiments in prison diet


IN 1840, some experiments were instituted in the Glasgow prison on the diet of a selected number of the inmates. The different sets of persons were fed on the following respective fares

1. For breakfast, each had eight ounces of oatmeal made into porridge, with a pint of buttermilk; for dinner, three pounds of boiled potatoes with salt; for supper, five ounces of oatmeal porridge, with one half-pint of buttermilk. At the end of two months they were all in good health, each person had gained four pounds weight, and they liked the diet, the cost of which, including the cooking, was two-pence three-farthings per day.

2. Other ten were fed for the same time solely on boiled potatoes and salt; each had two pounds for breakfast, three pounds for dinner, and one pound for supper. They gained three and a half pounds each; and they declared that they, preferred this fare to the ordinary diet of the prison.

3. Twelve others were fed on the same allowance of porridge and milk and supper to the first ten, but for dinner they had soup, containing two pounds of potatoes to each, and a quarter of a pound of meat. At the end of two months they had lost in weight one and a quarter pounds each, and they all disliked this diet. The expense of each, daily, was threopence seven-eights.

4. Twenty others had the same breakfast and supper with one pound of potatoes for dinner, and half a pound of meat. They preserved good health but decreased in weight, and preferred the ordinary diet of the prison. The expense was fourpence seven-eighths each.

In these cases, perhaps, the previous habits and tastes of the prisoners had some influence, yet it appears that the six pounds of potatoes daily was a better diet than the smaller quantities of soup or animal food.


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