The leading causes of death in this country could be modified by improvements in diet. Death rates for many of these conditions are higher in the U.S. than in other countries of comparable economic development. In summary, the major health problems that are diet related include:
Kidney and Urinary Problems
Mental and Emotional Illness
Heart and Vasculatory Diseases
Diabetes and Carbohydrate Disorders
Arthritis and Rheumatism
Early Aging and Shortened Lifespan
Infant Mortality and Infertility
Respiratory and other Infections
Other Deficiency Diseases
The Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs of the United States Senate has confirmed the above list of diet-related health problems. A member of the committee, Dr. D.M. Hegsted, Professor of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, said:
The diet of the American people has become increasingly rich-rich in meat, other sources of saturated fat and cholesterol, and in sugar. … Thus, the proportion of the total diet contributed by fatty and cholesterol rich foods and by refined foods has risen. We might be better able to tolerate this diet if we were much more active physically, but we are a sedentary people.
It should be emphasized that this diet which affluent people generally consume is everywhere associated with a similar disease pattern-high rates of ischemic heart disease, certain forms of cancer, diabetes, and obesity. These are the major causes of death and disability in the United States.
The facts are that great potential benefits can come from improved diets among Americans. Unfortunately, the major research thrust, nationwide, has been on the role of diet in treating health problems after they have developed. This is far from the holistic concept. The real benefits are preventive. And the start for such prevention of major health problems listed above would be to change the way we process and market the foods sold in supermarkets and groceries.