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Study shows medieval monks weren't slim

A new study reveals that medieval monks at three London monasteries must have been very overweight, the International Medieval Congress, meeting in Leeds learnt last week.

Philippa Patrick, from the Institute of Archaeology, at University College London, said that an analysis of the skeletons of 300 sets of bones found at Tower Hill, Bermondsey, and Merton abbeys showed a great deal of evidence pointing to obesity, including diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis and arthritis in knees, hips and fingertips.

Ms Patrick said: "They were taking in about 6,000 calories a day. Their meals were full of saturated fats."

She added that the new findings were supported by records from Westminster Abbey, which showed that monks there consumed a rich diet which included six eggs per person each day.

Study reveals medieval monks weren't exactly slim (Independent Catholic News 16/7/04)

International Medieval Congress
Creaking in the Cloisters: observations on prevalence and distribution of osteoarthritis in monks from medieval London (UCL Graduate School)

20 Jul 2004