Jean Mayer Nutritionist


January 02, 1993|By New York Times News Service

Jean Mayer, the chancellor and former president of Tufts University, whose work as a nutritionist helped clarify the nature of hunger and obesity, died Friday in Sarasota, Fla., He was 72.

Dr. Mayer, who was elevated to chancellor on Sept. 1 after 16 years as the university's president, died of a heart attack while traveling to an airport from the home of a friend, said Gail Bambrick, a spokeswoman for Tufts, in Medford, Mass.

The French-born Dr. Mayer earned academic honors, was a hero of the Free French forces in World War II, became one of the world's leading nutritionists and directed pioneering research into problems of poverty, malnutrition, aging and obesity.

He also served as an adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter, helped develop national policies to combat hunger and improve nutrition among poor and elderly people, wrote 750 scientific papers and 10 books, taught for 25 years at Harvard and transformed Tufts from a small liberal arts college into a research university of international reputation.

Dr. Mayer organized the 1969 White House Conference on Food, Nutrition and Health, which assembled medical and nutritional experts, food producers, government officials and others and led to the introduction of food stamps for the poor in 307 neglected counties and a wide expansion of the school lunch program for needy children.

Many of his social ideas stemmed from his own research, notably his studies on obesity and the regulation of hunger. As a researcher at Harvard in the 1950s, he was credited with having discovered how hunger is regulated by the amount of glucose in the blood.

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