was not until 1932 that scientists finally isolated vitamin C from lemon juice.
Scurvy was only one of several nutritional diseases that affected many people in the United States. Others included anemia (iron deficiency), goiter (iodine deficiency), rickets (vitamin D deficiency), and pellagra (niacin deficiency). For the most part, these diseases were eradicated in the United States in the first half of this century. The introduction of "iodized" salt, for example, virtually eliminated goiter, and milk fortified with vitamin D did a great deal to solve the problem of rickets.
Today, the diet-related diseases we face are very different. They develop over a much longer time than the vitamin deficiencies of earlier times. The insidious nature of these chronic, or slow-to-develop, diseases is what makes it all the more important to pay attention to what you eat now.
How important is it for us as a nation—and you as an individual—to change our eating habits? Of the 10 leading killer diseases in the United States, 6 are connected in some way to what we eat or drink. Combined, these 6—heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes mellitus, chronic liver disease and cirrhosis, and atherosclerosis—accounted for nearly 1.5 million deaths in 1987, nearly 70 percent of all deaths in the United States that year (see Figure 4.1). Alcohol ingestion plays a role in two leading causes of death—accidents and suicide. Only two of the leading causes of death are not connected to what we eat or drink—chronic obstructive lung disease, and pneumonia and influenza.
This is not to say that bad eating habits alone caused 1.5 million deaths in 1987, for diet is not the only factor that causes these diseases to develop. But changing our diet for the better could go a long way to reducing the disease toll significantly.
Improving the nation's diet could also do a great deal to reduce the number of people suffering from illnesses that are serious but not immediately life-threatening. High blood pressure, obesity, dental diseases, osteoporosis, and gallstones