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Managing the BodyBeauty, Health, and Fitness in Britain 1880-1939$
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Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280520

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280520.001.0001

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Building an ‘A 1 Nation’: Health and Life Reform in the 1920s

Building an ‘A 1 Nation’: Health and Life Reform in the 1920s

(p.151) 4 Building an ‘A 1 Nation’: Health and Life Reform in the 1920s
Managing the Body

Ina Zweiniger‐Bargielowska

Oxford University Press

The dysgenic disaster of the First World War compounded anxieties about physical deterioration. Sir George Newman, Chief Medical Officer at the new Ministry of Health, advocated health education as an essential aspect of preventive medicine. New pressure groups including the People's League of Health, the Sunlight League, and the New Health Society promoted healthy living as a duty of citizenship. They aimed to transform Britain from a C3 to an A1 nation. These military categories became a recurrent metaphor throughout the interwar years and the virtuous habits of the healthy and fit A1 citizen were juxtaposed with those of the C3 anti‐citizen whose undisciplined lifestyle was attributed to ignorance and lack of self‐control. The revival of life reform was further stimulated by the discovery of vitamins and a new interest in the healing power of sunlight. Dietary advice was not monolithic and the health benefits of wholemeal bread were contested.

Keywords:   Conservative modernity, citizenship, public health, health education, People's League of Health, Sunlight League, New Health Society, sunlight, vitamins, wholemeal bread

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