Although observations on relationships between diet and health have always been recognized, the systematic science of nutritional epidemiology in populations is relatively recent. Important observations propelling the field of nutrition forward were numerous in the 18th and 19th centuries, as it was recognized that deficiencies in certain classes of foods led to important diseases such as scurvy, rickets, pellagra, and beriberi. This was followed by the rapid sequential discovery of the vitamins in the early 20th century. Since then, the focus of diet and health has shifted to include the problems of obesity and the role of diet on chronic disease risk. Just as the parent field of epidemiology is defined as the investigation of the frequency, distribution, and risk factors influencing disease in populations, ...

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