Nutrition and Public Interest (Part I)
Contents in this issue:
- “Nutrition and Public Interest (Part I),” by Kirkpatrick W. Dilling.
The following is a transcription of the October 1965 issue of Dr. Royal Lee’s Applied Trophology newsletter, originally published by Standard Process Laboratories.
Nutrition and Public Interest (Part I)
Kirkpatrick W. Dilling
A noted attorney demonstrates the lack of reason or logic in FDA attitudes toward supplements.
(What follows is a statement made by Chicago attorney Kirkpatrick W. Dilling on behalf of the National Association of Food Supplement Manufacturers and Distributors to the U.S. Congress, Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations, Departments of Labor and Health, Education and Welfare and related agencies. Some paragraphs that do not relate directly to the subject of the statement have been deleted.)
Although our national food supply has never been better as to abundance and variety, these two factors do not automatically insure that all of our citizens receive proper nutritional value from their everyday diet.
According to recently published government statistics, everyone must receive in his or her daily diet at least fifty known nutritional elements. Not only must all of these nutrients be included in the diet, but they must be present in adequate amount and consumed in assimilable form. Serious health problems can arise where these simple essentials are not met by the individual involved.
As our National food supply has increased in abundance and variety, trends have been increasingly toward consumption of “convenience” foods which, by virtue of nutritional losses incurred through processing, refining, cooking, prolonged storage, and other factors, fail to provide maximum nutritional value. Based, for example, upon figures compiled by Dr. Philip L. Harris, head of the Division of Nutrition, Food and Drug Administration, one would necessarily consume more than 200 slices of white bread to secure a proper daily ration of vitamin E from this so-called “staff of life.” On the other hand, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, per capita consumption of fresh fruits, for example, has declined one-third since 1939.
Statistics reported by a select committee appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare to study the Food and Drug Administration show that more than $25 billion in baked goods, cereals, flour and macaroni, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and confectionery is consumed each year in the United States. Total consumption of these foods, which are high in “empty calories” and low in, if not devoid of, various vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients, has been steadily rising.
Regarding this problem, Dr. Seymour L. Halpern, a long-time physician in charge of the Nutrition Clinic of the New York City Department of Health, stated:
“‘Empty calorie’ foods fail to provide adequate protein, vitamins, and essential minerals. During the past four decades, the ratio of ‘empty calorie’ foods to nutritionally superior foods in the average diet has increased, so that today, ‘empty calorie’ foods represent one-third of the total calories consumed. Malnutrition is present in all age groups and at all economic and social levels.’”
Unquestionably, foods containing proper nutrition are available to everyone. However, the ordinary person has little knowledge of nutrition. It was disclosed in a survey conducted under the auspices of Cornell University that only 25 percent of a representative group of homemakers had even a fair understanding of what would be required, nutritionally, for their families. Proper nutrition would be, for the remaining 75 percent, a haphazard affair at best. When one considers that there are extreme variations in nutrient content of common foods (e.g., a variation of a hundred to one in vitamin A content between beef heart and beef liver), the situation becomes even more complicated.
One must keep in mind, also, that the consumer is greatly influenced in his food selections by mass media. Concerning this matter, the renowned clinician and nutritional expert, Dr. N. Philip Norman, has stated:
“To a considerable extent the perverted food habits encountered by clinical nutritionists are the creation of the food advertisers. Huge vested interests have been established in such seriously damaging addictions as alcoholic beverages, the cola drinks, candy bars, soda fountain concoctions, pastry-factory products, chewing gum, etc.”
The Nation’s Health Status
Although the United States enjoys the highest standard of living in all history, the Nation’s health status is not correspondingly high.
On November 2, 1961, the Head of Harvard University’s Department of Preventive Medicine was quoted as saying that this Nation’s health is far from being the best in the world, and he declared that the health of American men ranked thirteenth in the world, with our women standing in sixth place. The figures were based on life expectancies as reported to the United Nations and showed that our men were topped by those of Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Israel, Denmark, New Zealand, England, Canada, North Ireland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and West Germany, in that order.
The late President Kennedy became so concerned about the physical condition of our youth that he instituted a Council on Physical Fitness, which is currently seeking to improve the Nation’s physical fitness.
Concerned nutritional experts believe that through improved nutrition much can be accomplished to better our National health status.
Widespread Dietary Inadequacies
In view of the circumstances, it is not surprising that there is a large incidence in the U.S. of “mal,” or bad, nutrition.
The U.S. Government states (in the publication The Principles of Good Nutrition) that “many people still consume diets which are poor in essential food elements.”
This situation is further summarized in another Government publication currently distributed by the U.S. Government Printing Office (Food—The Yearbook of Agriculture 1959): “Many studies indicate that many families do not have diets considered best for the maintenance of good health and physical well-being.”
Nutritional Status—U.S.A. was the result of a ten-year National cooperative study, financed with U.S. Government funds, to obtain factual information as to the nutritional level of the Nation by means of sampling appreciable numbers of the population of the United States with reference to such variables as age, sex, geographical location, etc. Although a large incidence of good nutrition was observed as a result of the study, substantial and varying degrees of dietary inadequacy were revealed also.
Detailed reviews were made as to deficiencies in eight nutrients studied (ascorbic acid, calcium, vitamin A, niacin, iron, riboflavin, thiamine, and protein) and, specifically, data concerning the very substantial number of persons who consumed less than two-thirds of the recommended allowances for these nutrients.
Nutritional Status—U.S.A. noted (page 7): “Obviously, the same nutrient deficits occur again and again in all parts of the country in vitamin C, calcium, iron, and vitamin A.”
The U.S. Government publication Food Consumption and Dietary Levels of Households in the United States also contains data as to the incidence of dietary inadequacies. A chart entitled “Need for Improved Diets” indicates dietary inadequacies as to seven vital nutrients. Twenty-nine percent of family diets are shown as not meeting the recommended allowances for calcium, which in terms of a U.S. population of 180 million, would mean that 52 million people are short in this nutrient. Eight percent of the family diets are listed as containing less than two-thirds of the calcium deemed adequate, a statistic involving more than 14 million people. The same chart would also indicate that about 45 million people are short in vitamin C, and that more than 10 million people receive less than two-thirds of the amount of vitamin A deemed adequate for good nutrition.
The dietary status of our teenagers is in particular need of improvement. According to the U.S. Government in its publication Improving Teenage Nutrition, “Six out of every ten girls and four of every ten boys have poor diets. That is, they get two-thirds or less of the nutrients recommended for their age by the National Research Council.”
The National Livestock and Meat Board has noted, in a statement accepted by the Council on Foods and Nutrition of the American Medical Association:
“Americans are conscious of the importance of health and realize that adequate nutrition is essential to good health. And yet, malnutrition is widespread in this country, a country where there is enough food to adequately nourish everyone.
“Improvement of the diets of American adults will come when more of them realize than do now that some changes in our patterns of eating are needed.”
—U.S. Government publication, Yearbook of Agriculture, 1959
Leading Authorities Urge Dietary Supplementation
“Most Americans, even though they think they eat well-balanced meals, are actually lacking in certain elements and would benefit from a good vitamin and mineral food supplement,” states the well-known nutritional writer and expert Dr. H. Curtis Wood Jr.
“That deficient nutrition is to be found commonly among adults (even those who regard themselves well nourished) can hardly be doubted in light of all the facts.
“It is my viewpoint that each individual has a substantial responsibility for ordering his own life, including his consumption of food. If each will take advantage of the unity of nature, diversify his food, avoid too much refined food, cultivate body wisdom, and use nutritional supplements when informed judgment so dictates, I am sure that better health will be the reward.”
—Statements by Dr. Roger J. Williams, Director of the Clayton Foundation Biochemical Institute at the University of Texas, pioneer nutritionist and discoverer of pantothenic acid.
The Contribution of the Food Supplement Industry
Improving one’s diet necessarily involves either (1) a change in basic dietary habits or (2) furnishing the desired but missing or short nutrients through dietary supplementation. All too often, however, the only practicable means of accomplishing a genuine dietary improvement is through supplementation, because of the fact (according to the above government publication) that “experience of centuries has shown that people are reluctant to change their food habits and that education regarding food choices is a slow process.”
—Reprinted from Prevention, July 1965