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Silent VictoriesThe History and Practice of Public Health in Twentieth Century America$
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John W. Ward and Christian Warren

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195150698

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195150698.001.0001

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The Impact of Improved Nutrition on Disease Prevention

The Impact of Improved Nutrition on Disease Prevention

(p.163) 8 The Impact of Improved Nutrition on Disease Prevention
Silent Victories

Richard D. Semba

Oxford University Press

In the 20th century, major progress was made in the near elimination of many nutritional deficiencies disorders in the United States such as rickets, pellagra, iodine deficiency, infantile scurvy, iron deficiency due to hookworm, and subclinical levels of vitamin A deficiency and folate deficiency. The vitamins and their roles in human health were characterized, and dietary requirements were established. The landmark studies of Joseph Goldberger revealed that the cause of pellagra was nutritional rather than infectious. The fortification of foodstuffs, nutrition education, home gardening, and federally supported feeding programs all were aimed at improving the nutrition of the U.S. population. The American diet also evolved in light of the newer knowledge of nutrition. Despite the tremendous advances in the 20th century, obesity and other challenges remain for nutrition and public health efforts in the 21st century.

Keywords:   public health, 20th century, nutrition, nutritional deficiency, rickets, pellagra, scurvy, vitamins, food fortification, Joseph Goldberger

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