Diet & Disease: Time to Act

By Jacobson, Michael F. | Nutrition Action Healthletter, December 1999 | Go to article overview
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Diet & Disease: Time to Act

Jacobson, Michael F., Nutrition Action Healthletter

This month's cover story chronicles an exciting work in progress: scientists' efforts to understand how diet contributes to major chronic diseases.

Over the past half-century, governments and private organizations around the world have invested billions of dollars in research to understand what causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases. The assumption, of course, is that health officials will do everything they can to apply their findings to protect the public's health.

When it comes to treating diseases, giant pharmaceutical firms make sure that their drugs are used as quickly and as widely as possible.

But when it comes to preventing disease with a healthy diet, health officials are rarely heard. The fruits of biomedical research, won at such great cost and with such great hope, are allowed to wither on the vine.

As one measure, consider some annual advertising budgets: McDonald's--$1 billion, Coca-Cola Co.--$770 million, General Mills--$598 million, 5 A Day--$1 million.

"5 A Day"--I'll bet most people have never heard of it--is the federal government's biggest effort to educate the general public about healthy diets.

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