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Dr. J. Tremolieres


The normes recommended, whatever name is given to them, always take into account the normative character of what is desirable for man.

Since scientific knowledge is limited to the experimental conditions of the laboratory and can really be generalized only by assuming that the conditions of real life are identifiable with the experimental conditions, proposals from a Committee of Experts that would have a practical significance imply consciously or unconsciously judgements of an ethical or humanist nature. It would be better to formulate them clearly than to conceal them behind an appearance of science.

We have, therefore, deemed it useful to underline two of them.


- Can science, that is to say a logical and objective approach, define a single APOLLO and a single VENUS as the desirable standard for every man coming into this world, as the necessary basis of reference of fixing the requirements?

At present the reply is NO.

- Does internationality mean extending to all nations the type of life and the type of man of the nations which are the most industrialized at present ?

The answer of the Committee choosing a single Man of Reference is YES.

- Does internationality mean promoting the peaceful coexistence of different human societies which seek, each in its own way, what seems to it to be the best ?

The answer is YES if one admits the principle of liberty.


The sciences and techniques are based on the possibility of measuring, that is to say of comparing the magnitudes of certain qualities.

The qualities or properties: length, bulk, time, are measured by means of an instrument which compares with a standard.

It should be added that these measures have practical purposes and that according to the use which man has made of them, he has measured time by the sundial, the timepiece, the frequency of the cesium line.

When it is a question not of physical properties but of taking man as a comparable, measurable and definable property, to define a standard, to choose a necessary basis of reference for any objective, that is to say scientific, appreciation, requires at least that one reflect thereon.

In what sense is one quantitatively more or less man ? To what extent are stature, health, activity, the properties of the individual which can be quantified or judged good or bad ?

First of all, it is evident that there is an aspect of the properties of man which will always elude the objective approach. The phenomena which produced Christ, Buddha, Mahomet; those which in a deaf Beethoven, a Schumann with two paralysed fingers, a tuberculous Chopin, have produced music which is creation itself, in what it has that is immeasurable and unforeseeable, therefore non-scientific.

We shall refrain from following this endless path in order to deal with simpler questions.

To what extent can one determine a useful Man of Reference, recognized by the society that will have to make use of him ?

This Man of Reference being an almost divine APOLLO, it is appropriate that he should be regarded as such in the society that is to make use of him. The regional character appears to be indispensable.

The judgement on stature, health, activity, well-being, belongs for the time being to this consensus, to this necessary mutual confidence without which a society does not exist.



Recognizing that the factorial method is unable to determine the requirements, the previous committees have chosen to evaluate by surveys the requirements of a Man of Reference.

In fact, it is merely a way of getting round the difficulties which need to be reflected upon very thoroughly.

The requirement of a man depends on a series of definite factors: bodily constitution, climate, activity, age, previous diet, feeding rythm, etc.

These factors have been evaluated in the experimental conditions of the laboratory: kgm supplied on a travelling band, average temperature, etc.... but the analysis of factors intervening in the calorie expenditures has remained too crude to be applied in practice outside the laboratory. If the factorial method is not practicable, it is because of the present status of knowledge.

The position of the previous committees only means that the definitions of the factors being inadequate for the current life conditions, it was more appropriate to consider the individual undergoing these factors rather than the factors action upon the individual.

Thus the committee limited in fact the scope of the requirements which it proposed for the type of man chosen, since it admitted that the factors determining the items of his requirements were not sufficiently measurable.

The corollary of this position is that the requirements should be defined for different types of Men of Reference. In fact, to take only one, is to take him as Apollo and Venus; that is to admit that there is only one way of life and being, that of the industrial Western man. Regional bases of reference, founded on regional surveys, are objectives that can more easily be regarded as possible and desirable.

By a quite understandable process in a committee, this basic principle was only partially accepted and the factorial analysis which allows of generalizations was mingled with recognition of the fact that this analysis being insufficient, it was better to consider only that which made a certain type of man.

Hence the two questions remain posed:

- How to define men, as bases of reference ?

- How to improve knowledge of the factors of the necessary expenditure in order to generalize and justify it ?


The basic principle posed by ATWATER appear to be always true.

"One principle which so far has not received adequate recognition in dietary standards may perhaps be expressed by saying that the standards must vary not only with the conditions of activity and environment, but also with the nutritive plane at which the body is to be maintained.

A man may live and work and maintain bodily equilibrium on either a higher or lower nitrogen level or energy level. The essential question is what level is most advantageous?

The answer to this must be sought not simply in metabolism experiments and dietary studies, but also in broader observations regarding bodily and mental efficiency and general health, strength and welfare".

(ATWATER, W. and BENEDICT, F. 1898-1900,
U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Experiments Station, Bull. 109. - Experiments on the metabolism of matter and energy in the human body).

1) The "requirement" may be regarded as that which is deemed "proper" in a certain society and at a certain moment. Thus the Man of Reference is that which it is deemed proper to be in a certain society.

2) This judgement may rest on three simultaneous bases:

  1. consumption surveys analysed in several sub-groups: a group regarded as poor, a group deemed "proper", a group regarded as "ideal", possibly a group regarded as excessive;
  2.  studies on local aliments which can be related to nutrition, so as to determine the dangerous tendencies, the margins below or above which it is dangerous to live, for instance: the relations of degenerative diseases of the heart and of the vessels and the rates of fact or calories, those of certain cirrhoses and of alcohol, diseases and weaning and the quantities of animal proteins;
  3.  joint studies on the anthropological, physiological parameters, of activity, resistance.

In short it is a question of using for other societies the method advocated for defining the Western Man of Reference, at present the only basis of the recommendations. Sufficient regional surveys are available for proposing such recommendations.


The adoption of several Men of Reference does not exclude, however, analysis of the factors of the expenditure of these Men of Reference and their utilization in the future.

This knowledge makes it possible to justify and generalize the choice. Here it will be more a question of research to be undertaken than of data ready for use and one can only make suggestions on the ways likely to provide a better analysis of the factors.

1) The nutritional induction of the neonatal period (calorie, protein and vitamin levels) on the animal determines in part the bodily constitution, the level of maintenance, the longevity. To what extent does it determine the level of maintenance of the adult?

2) Fasting periods lasting three weeks are likely to diminish the basic expenditures by 20 to 30% (two successive periods). This diminution may persist and take place even if the nitrogen bulk remains constant through a regime of 55 g of proteins comprising minerals and vitamins. M. APFELBAUM and Coll.

3) Stature: Stature can be defined by the average weight for a given height in the group considered provided that the distribution of the weights per class of height has been judged "normal", that is to say indicating only differences deemed "constitutional" not in relation with an excessive frequency of obesities or thinness.

Untill more ample information is available, one is obliged to regard the average weight of a class of height of subjects deemed normal as the weight of "reference", while pointing out that in the U.S.A. the weight corresponding to the lowest mortality rates is inferior to that weight by 15% and that elsewhere it is not generally known how matters stand.

At present, only very few tables of weights in relation to heights are available. The use of weight alone as the basis of reference of the requirements supposes that the distribution of the weights by class of height is "normal", that is to say that the distribution of the heights for the same weight is "normal".

Only very partial data are available on "normal" statures and these data appear to change fairly rapidly within a society.

4) The average external temperature is a very crude index of the requirements of theremogenesis. The conditions of housing dress, humidity, adaptation to cold, need to be better know.

5) Activity: the definition of the activity of reference has bee made by taking the elementary activities and fixing the timetables for them in Western society.

It would be necessary to undertake in each type of society and climate an analysis of the times and kind of activity, and of the calorie expenditure that it necessitates.

With regimes of the Western type, the muscular expenditure appears to increase very much under conditions of heat, CONSOLAZIO. On the other hand, the Africans, accustomed to heat, live at low protein levels, MAZER.

A three-weeks fast below 250 calories raises by 20 to 30% the thermodynamic yield of the muscular effort, that is to say diminishes the consumption of oxygen per kgm supplied, M. APFELBAUM, C. MOHR, J. TREMOLIERES.

The existence of a circadian rythm of the respiratory exchanges corresponding normally to extreme levels differing by 20%, poses the problem of the levels of expenditure of activity when the latter occurs in periods of already high expenditures or in periods of low expenditures, that is in periods of potential activity or, on the contrary, in periods of potential rest.

6) The definition of margins below which health is deemed unsatisfactory, would greatly help to fix the probable limits of the requirements.

As regards the Man of Reference, that would include his being free of the premonitory signs of his disease, for instance that his cholesterolemia, his T.A., his weight, are within certain margins.

The definition of these parameters, especially as regards states of undernourishment has to be resumed at the base.


1) We propose that the work of survey and analysis, on which the rates recommended for the industrial man are based, should be extended in order to determine the rates recommended for other societies, that is to say for other ways of life and other types of man.

We propose retaining the Man of Reference concept for defining the requirements. But we propose to modify it. Defined by what the man of a society consumes when the society deems that that type is possible and desirable, based on the surveys, one can thus define several Men of Reference, adapted to each large area.

2) We propose that more thorough work be undertaken to carry out with greater precision the factorial analysis of the items of expenditure, so as to make it applicable in practice, that is, outside the laboratory conditions.

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