Editorial, Need For Nutritional Knowledge



                Available nutritional knowledge for the layman is decidedly inadequate. The average individual is conscious of the fact that there are foods and foods. He is aware that certain dietary factors are highly desirable and that there exists a group of protective foods which prevent disease. He also realizes that he probably is not obtaining proper nutrient material, but his understanding of dietetics is so vague that he is prone to assume a disinterested attitude toward the whole situation.

So much has been said and written about the value of vitamins, the danger of acidity and alkalinity, protein unbalance, energy foods and intestinal stasis, that their bewilderment has forced them to lose heart in their efforts to establish a dietary balance.

To educate a populace as large as we have in the United States on any subject, is a difficult undertaking and requires careful planning. To enlighten the laity on dietary needs is indeed an intricate matter and calls for the most careful consideration. It is, however, a subject that readily interests the public. A subject that relates to their most pleasant pastime. Something, that with pleasure produces health or disease; yet few are informed as to the fundamentals of a balanced dietary.

I do not believe the blame for this ignorance lies with the laity. As a rule they are eager for such knowledge. Both the medical and dental profession have been lax in educating the public on nutritional needs, which probably is the most valuable aid to dental health.

Recently, I received through the courtesy of Dr. J. Menzies Campbell, of Glasgow, a copy of “What to Eat and Why”, published by the London College of Dietetics, for only one shilling (25 cents). This book of over 150 pages is an exhaustive discussion of dietetics. It intelligently and simply covers the field of anatomy, physiology, balanced diets, infant feeding, feeding in pregnancy, and special diets. It also explains many of the problems of nutrition encountered in daily life. In short it is the most excellent treatise of the subject for the layman that I have chanced to read.

The London College of Dietetics maintains a building in London to teach their people what to eat, how to prepare it, why they should eat it. And the nutritional value of the various elements. Workers are sent from the College to different parts of the Kingdom to organize local classes and form study clubs.

We in America have made very little systematic effort to inform our people on a problem they are so eager to understand. We have to a large extent left them at the mercy of food faddists, opportunists and unscrupulous food merchants.

The most important factors, in the maintenance of health, both dental and physical, are fresh air, bodily and oral hygiene, exercise, relaxation, medication, rest, regularity, and nutritional balance. Of these, probably the most important is nutritional balance, for without proper feeding, other precautions will accomplish little, where consideration is not given to careful selection of foods for their nutritional value.

To develop a health organization in America such as has been created in England would require months of careful planning, and intelligent leadership, neither of which are available at the present time.

But until such time as public nutritional education is organized dentists can reach the majority of people through private practice and impart to them some of the fundamental dietary needs. They can recommend good books on dietetics to arouse interest of the public to study their nutritional needs and apply practical principles to their regular feeding.


—Carl J. Grove