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October 2, 1943


Author Affiliations

Senior Surgeon, U. S. Public Health Service; Chief, Division of Chemotherapy, National Institute of Health

JAMA. 1943;123(5):280-287. doi:10.1001/jama.1943.82840400004007

The prevention of malnutrition and the deficiency diseases is probably the greatest and most complex problem in public health that this country has ever had. The exact extent of physical disability, economic loss and disease directly or indirectly related to nutrition are unknown, and yet there is every indication that malnutrition is very widespread. Some physicians who do not see many cases of advanced deficiency disease feel that the importance of nutrition is being overemphasized. However, in every clinic in which close observations are made and the more refined methods of diagnosis used, many unsuspected cases of malnutrition are recognized, and every study reveals the importance of mild degrees of deficiency in producing symptoms the cause of which was hitherto unrecognized. Furthermore, it is significant that almost all practicing physicians are prescribing vitamin preparations for more and more of their patients.

Even before our food supply was disturbed by the