Nutrition and National Health

May 13, 1941

Report Outline
New Knowledge of Minimum Food Requirements
Vitamins and Minerals Essential for Health
Deficiencies in the Average American Diet
Recommendations for Improving Food Habits
Special Focus

New Knowledge of Minimum Food Requirements

A National Nutrition Conference for Defense has been called by President Roosevelt to meet in Washington May 26–28, and invitations have been sent to some seven hundred leaders not only in medicine and public health but in agriculture, education, labor, industry, and other activities which are affected by the nation's level of health. This conference is expected to publicise and extend the work of many government agencies which have been studying nutrition as a factor in national defense.

One of the earliest steps taken by the Consumer Division of the National Defense Advisory Commission, when that agency was formed a year ago, was to set up a nutrition planning and policy committee under the chairmanship of M. L. Wilson of the Department of Agriculture, After Paul McNutt was made Coordinator of Health, Welfare and Related Activities in November he appointed Helen Mitchell as a special consultant on nutrition to bring together the work of state and local health departments, the United States Public Health Service and other federal agencies dealing with problems in the field of nutrition. Working closely with these agencies is the Committee on Food and Nutrition of the National Research Council, under the chairmanship of Russell M. Wilder, chief of the Department of Medicine of the Mayo Foundation.

The strong emphasis being placed on nutrition as an important part of the national defense program is largely the result of discoveries about the relationship between food and health which have been made since the first World War. Experiments in the last twenty years have clearly established that to be well fed an individual must not only get enough food but must also consume minimum daily amounts of a considerable number of vitamins and minerals. It is now known that vitamin deficiencies were probably as important as absolute Jack of sufficient food in producing bad effects on the German population between 1914 and 1918, and the German government is reported to have stored large quantities of synthetic vitamins in preparation for the present war. The British government is also devoting careful attention to the vitamin content of the British diet, and British Jaw now requires that white flour and certain other foods be fortified by the addition of vitamins before they can be sold.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Nutrition and Health
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Mar. 16, 1990  Public-Health Campaigns: Do They Go Too Far?
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Jul. 13, 1949  Recreation for Millions
May 13, 1941  Nutrition and National Health