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Aenon Health Care

Nutritional Deficiency Or Dietary Excess?

The Surgeon General report on Nutrition and Health in 1988 by the then Dr C. Everett Koop, M.D.,Sc.D. of the U.S. Public Health Service offers comprehensive documentation of the scientific basis for the recommended dietary changes.

The report listed the ten leading causes of death in the USA. They are:

Estimated Total Deaths and Percent of Total Deaths for the 10 Leading Causes of Death: United States, 1987.
Rank Cause of Death Number %
1a Heart diseases 759,400 35.7
(Coronary heart disease) 511,700 24.1
(Other heart disease) 247,700 11.6
2a Cancers 476,700 22.4
3a Strokes 148,700 7
4b Unintentional injuries 92,500 4.4
(Motor vehicle) 46,800 2.2
(All others) 45,700 2.2
5 Chronic obstructive lung diseases 78,000 3.7
6 Pneumonia and influenza 68,600 3.2
7 Diabetes mellitus 37,800 1.8
8a Suicide 29,600 1.4
9b Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis 26,000 1.2
10a Atherosclerosis 23,100 1.1
All causes 2,125,100 100

a= Causes of death in which diet plays a part.
b = Causes of death in which excessive alcohol consumption plays a part.
Source: National Center for Health Statistics 1988.

As we can see from the data above, the leading causes of death i.e. heart diseases, some cancers, and strokes together with diabetes and atherosclerosis are due to dietary habits; while the other 3 is associated with alcohol consumption.

Although the precise proportion attributable to diet is uncertain, these eight conditions accounted for nearly 1.5 million of the 2.1 million total deaths in 1987. As the diseases of nutritional deficiency have diminished; they have been replaced by diseases of dietary excess and imbalance. Evidences suggests strongly that a dietary pattern that contains excessive intake of foods high in calories, fat (especially saturated fat), cholesterol, and sodium, but that is low in complex carbohydrates and fiber, is one that contributes significantly to the high rates of major chronic diseases among Americans. It also suggests that reversing such dietary patterns should lead to a reduced incidence of these chronic diseases.

Here in Malaysia, the government is promoting a diet using lower sugar, lower salt, lower fat and less refined food. Let us therefore practice with wisdom our freedom of choice and select a healthier diet for better health.