The universally known body temperature of 98.6 F was established by German physician Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich in 1851. However, more modern studies have revealed new data and has questioned whether the current standard is too high now.
What We Know:
- A recent study found the average temperature of 25,000 British patients to be 97.9 F. Likewise, the gradual decrease in average body temperature in the United States could be explained by a reduction in metabolic rate, or the amount of energy being used.
- The advancement of Public Health the past two centuries has improved the standard of living with better medical treatments, hygiene, and a greater availability of food. Moreover, technological advances such as heating and cooling, have introduced more consistent environments where humans no longer need to use energy to maintain a constant body temperature.
- Another rigorous study gave proof that the body temperature of men born in the 2000s is on average 1.06 F lower than those born in the early 1800s. A similar observation has shown that women born in the 2000s is on average 0.58 F lower than those born in the 1890s. These results concluded an average 0.05 F drop every decade.
- Julie Parsonnet, professor at the University School of Medicine (SUSM), concludes that “all these things mean that although we think of human beings as if we’re monomorphic and have been the same for all of human evolution, we’re not the same. We’re actually changing physiologically.”
In the long run, the study unveils the deeper truth that constant physiological change in humans from generation to generation is just a result of human evolution and technology.