Seminario: Eva Trescastro (Universidad de Alicante) – Nutritional status of the mining population in Rio Tinto basin in the first third of the 20th century

Información (pendiente de confirmación)

  • Ponente: Eva Trescastro López (Universidad de Alicante)
  • Fecha: 09/may/2019 - 12:00 horas
  • Lugar: Seminario del Departamento de Economía Aplicada. Retransmitido en directo.


The aim of the present study was to investigate the impact of the expansion of mining activities in the Rio Tinto basin on the standard of living of the local population in the first third of the 20th century, focusing particularly on food and nutritional status in relation to the presence of communicable diseases. The main sources consulted to reconstruct diets were the mining company’s archives, which record details of the company’s large workforce as well as food purchases made for company hospitals. This choice of methodology was dictated by the availability and accessibility of the mining company’s private administrative and accounting records. To explore the relationship between nutrition and communicable diseases, we analysed studies by public health experts indicating the role played by nutrition in the spread of such diseases within communities, and the discourse of public health and preventive measures associated with the health reforms needed to overcome the problem. We also examined other contemporary sources to obtain qualitative information about the study period. The data retrieved from mining company records for the study period were used to reconstruct typical diets in the Rio Tinto river basin. Once the typical diet had been reconstructed, food quantities were converted into nutrients (calories, proteins, fats and carbohydrates) using the Spanish Food Composition Database (Spanish initials: BEDCA). We next analysed dietary composition in mining basin and compared it with the minimum requirements necessary to meet basic nutritional needs. We then explored the relationship between the typical diet and other indicators of well-being in relation to the presence of diseases associated with privation and poverty.  This enabled us to compare the urban penalty model recently proposed by Floud, Fogel, Harris and Hong for British industrial cities with our findings for the Rio Tinto basin.

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