Nutrition and National Health


The Cantor Lectures
delivered before
The Royal Society of Arts


Sir Robert McCarrison
C.I.E., M.A., M.D., D.Sc., LL.D., F.R.C.P.
Major-General I.M.S. (Ret'd.)
Formerly Director of Research on Nutrition, India

First published Mcmliii
by Faber and Faber Limited
24 Russell Square London W.C.1

Major General Sir Robert McCarrison
C.I.E., M.D., F.R.C.P.


Publishers' Foreword

1. Food, Nutrition, and Health
The cell. Food. Nutrition. Health. The experimental method in research on nutrition. Food and physical efficiency. Freedom of well-fed animals from disease. A good diet and a bad one. Food and peptic ulcer. Experimental beri-beri and 'stone'. Variety of disease in improperly fed animals.

2. Relation of Certain Food Essentials to Structure and Functions of the Body
Oxygen and water. Proteins. Mineral salts: Calcium, Phosphorus, Iron, Iodine. The Vitamins: A, B1, B2, C, D. Vitamins in general.

3. National Health and Nutrition
Deficiency diseases in India. Diet and incidence of disease. Partial degrees of vitamin insufficiency. National ill health. The death-rate and national health. Effects of improved diets. Chief faults of British diets. Prevention of disease by diet. Maternal mortality. Building an Al nation. Education. Conclusion.

4. Introduction to 'Studies in Deficiency Diseases'
From Studies in Deficiency Disease, Sir Robert McCarrison, Oxford Medical Publications, Henry Frowde and Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1921

5. Diseases of Faulty Nutrition
Transactions of the Far Eastern Association of Tropical Medicine, 1927


1. Diet and physique of Indian Races
2. White flour versus whole wheat flour
3. Sikh diet versus diet of poorer class European
4. Effect of want of certain vitamins on the growth of young rats
5. Insured persons in England and Wales: proportion of certain diseases per 1,000 of sick
6. Nutritive values of diets in common use in the five main divisions of India
7. Vitamin values of whole wheat flour and white flour

'Malnutrition is responsible for widespread impairment of human efficiency and for an enormous amount of ill health and disease, reduces the resistance of the body to tuberculosis, and enhances the general incidence and severity of familiar diseases; mortality rates in infants, children and mothers are higher in ill-fed than in well-fed populations; food consumption at a level merely sufficient to prevent malnutrition is not enough to promote health and well-being.'

'A sound food and nutrition policy must be adopted by each Government if national diets are to be progressively improved, specific deficiency diseases eliminated, and good health achieved.'

'Given the will, we have the power to build in every nation a people more fit, more vigorous, more competent; a people with longer, more productive lives, and with more physical and mental stamina than the world has ever known. Such prospects, remote though they may be, should serve as a stimulus in undertaking immediate tasks and overcoming immediate obstacles.'

-- Report of the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture, Hot Springs, Virginia, United States of America, 18th May - 3rd June 1943.

Publishers' Foreword

The three lectures which form the subject matter of this book were the Cantor Lectures of 1936 delivered before the Royal Society of Arts by Sir Robert McCarrison, formerly Director of Research on Nutrition in India. The publication of the lectures in 1936, considered in retrospect, was an event of outstanding importance, as witnessed by the constant reference to them by subsequent writers upon Nutrition and kindred subjects.

It came to the notice of the present publishers that the pamphlet in which the lectures were first published had been out of print for some years. It seemed regrettable that it should no longer be available, in view of the light which the lectures threw on the relation of food and nutrition to public health and of the preoccupation of government and people with this subject at the present time. With this in mind the publishers sought the consent of the Council of the Royal Society of Arts and of the author to reprint the lectures; this was willingly given.

The thesis, sustained in these lectures, that 'the greatest single factor in the acquisition and maintenance of good health is perfectly constituted food', is now an established truth. Various publications of the League of Nations have borne witness to it; and the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture, held at Hot Springs, Virginia, in 1943, has set its seal upon it. This Conference declared 'that the first essential of a decent standard of living is the provision to all men of those primary necessities which are required to promote freedom from disease, and for the attainment of good health'; and, 'that the most fundamental of these necessities is adequate food. ...' These lectures provide experimental proof of 'the fundamental importance of food in relation to health'. It is hoped that their re-publication will help to extend the knowledge of this vitally important fact among a wider public, to promote the progressive improvement of national diets and, consequently, of national health.

Also by Robert McCarrison

"Nutrition in Health and Disease" by Sir Robert McCarrison, British Medical Journal-- Full text of a speech opening discussion in the Section of Nutrition at the Annual Meeting of the British Medical Association, Oxford, 1936. (5,100 words)

"Nutrition & Soil Fertility" -- Full text of speeches by Sir Robert McCarrison and Sir Albert Howard at a meeting at the Town Hall, Crewe, on March 22nd, 1939, in support of the Medical Testament of the Local Medical and Panel Committees of the County Palatine of Chester. From Supplement to "The New English Weekly," April 6th, 1939 (3,500 words)

Sir Robert McCarrison's contribution to the
Medical Testament -- Nutrition, Soil Fertility, and the National Health, published by the 31 doctors of the Cheshire Panel Committee in England in 1939. (1,350 words)

McCarrison bibliography -- References to the "Medical Testament"

Next: 1. Food, Nutrition, and Health

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