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Keys, Ancel (1904–2004)

  • In: Encyclopedia of Epidemiology
  • Edited by: Sarah Boslaugh
  • Subject:Public Health (general), Public Health Research Methods , Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Ancel Keys was an American scientist who did pioneering work on the relationship between diet and health, particularly on the relationship between dietary fat and heart disease. Keys and his wife Margaret were the first American promoters of the Mediterranean diet, coauthoring Eat Well and Stay Well, an immensely popular cookbook. The discovery of a link between diet and heart disease landed Keys on the cover of Time magazine in 1961 and garnered him the nickname ‘Mr. Cholesterol.’

Keys was born in Colorado Springs in 1904, an only child. His family moved to San Francisco just before the devastating April 1906 earthquake, then across San Francisco Bay to Berkeley. While in elementary school, he was identified as one of the 1,528 ‘gifted’ children studied by Stanford ...

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