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June 4, 1982

Nutrition and the New Health Awareness

Author Affiliations

Dr White is director, and Ms Selvey is assistant director, Department of Foods and Nutrition, American Medical Association. For further information and reprints, write to Department of Foods and Nutrition, American Medical Association, 535 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60610.

JAMA. 1982;247(21):2914-2916. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320460026008

The next great improvement in the public health will occur when people undertake personal efforts to reduce their risk of disease.1 Personal efforts relate to abatement of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, dietary immoderations, stress, and physical inactivity. Not much of this is under the direct control of the physician, nor does the busy practitioner have time to muster the necessary skills to effect significant changes in the well-ingrained but bad habits of patients.

To bring about behavioral change requires knowledge of the patient's own set of health beliefs. In this time of medical and health enlightenment, people entertain an astounding variety of ideas that may have no basis in science or medicine. Self-assessment and self-treatment may be as commonplace as when the American Medical Association was founded in the last century. Many commercial interests prey on our heightened health awareness, reinforcing ill-conceived personal beliefs for their own monetary