"Normal" populations are usually used as control groups for assessment of nutritional status. Populations are considered normal if they are ambulatory, can carry out routine daily activities, and are willing to donate a specimen for analysis. However, few populations escape some health problem. A recent survey (1976) by the U.S. Department of Agriculture questioned' approximately 1,400 households from different regions and social levels (16). In more than 60 percent of all households, someone had health problems, either diagnosed by a physician or self-ascribed. The incidence of health problems in regard to a specific disease or condition is shown in table 3. The most common problems were obesity, hypertension, and allergies, which were reported, respectively, in 30 percent, 22 percent, and 20 percent of the households.
In approximately 40 percent of all households, someone had changed a dietary pattern to meet an existing health problem.
Results of that survey were strikingly similar to those of an earlier study (1967) by the U.S. Public Health Service (53) in which those interviewed were part of the "normal" population who were not hospitalized. Respondents were asked whether they had experienced, within the past-12 months, any of 11 conditions, including asthma, stomach ulcer, hay fever. The percentages of those who experienced .one or more chronic condition were 43% for ages 17 to 24; 59% for ages 25 to 44; 71% for ages 45 to 64; and 85% for age 65 -arid older. The complaints were not verified by physical examination. However, the responses indicated the incidence of suboptimal health.
pursue optimal self care at least as actively as a diagnosis
ask for referrals to preventive health care specialists eg dietitians
don't let suboptimal self care muddy any underlying diagnostic picture!
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