School of Public Health and a Finnish Town That Went on a Diet

Boy petting cow in field. In a region of dairy farms, the proportion of residents consuming high-fat milk has dropped from about 70 percent to less than 10 percent.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015

An article in The Atlantic describes how the work of University of Minnesota public health researchers Ancel KeysHenry Blackburn and their colleagues influenced a physician in Finland to pioneer a strategy that reduced male cardiovascular deaths by 80 percent in the North Karelian region of the country. The project began in 1972 and was led by a 27-year-old doctor with a social science degree, Pekka Puska. Among his innovations was to focus on village "opinion leaders," including members of an influential women's organization, who learned how to cook recipes adapting traditional dishes to be more healthful.