Norman Jolliffe, physician and public health official, was born August 18, 1901 in Knob Fork, West Virginia. He obtained his B.S. from the University of West Virginia in 1923 and received his medical degree from New York University in 1926.
After an internship and residency in the Third (NYU) Medical Division of Bellevue Hospital, Jolliffe joined the faculty of the New York University School of Medicine. He also served as Chief of Medical Service of Bellevue's Psychiatric Division from 1932 to 1946. Jolliffe taught at the Columbia University School of Public Health from 1945 until his death and rose to become an Associate Professor of Nutrition. He established the first Nutrition Clinic of the New York City Department of Health in 1945 and was Director of the department's Bureau of Nutrition from 1949 to 1961.
Jolliffe was among a number of physicians whose research into alcoholism in the 1930s helped shift the American perception of this condition from a "temperance" to a "disease" model. His work on obesity, appetite and the role of cholesterol in heart disease in the 1940s and '50s was also highly important and foreshadowed the widespread American concern with weight loss that greatly intensified in the last quarter of the 20th century.
While head of the Bureau of Nutrition, Jolliffe established the "Anti-Coronary Club," a group of businessmen in their 40s and 50s who were put on a diet of cold cereal, margarine, chicken and fish in an attempt to reduce their cholesterol. While the results and meaning of this experiment are still disputed, it marked a significant step in identifying a high cholesterol diet as a cause of heart disease.
Besides over a hundred scientific articles, Jolliffe was author of Reduce and Stay Reduced (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1952; 2nd ed., 1957), a popular guide to dieting. He was also editor of Clinical Nutrition (1950), published for the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Research Council.
Jolliffe was first married to Edna Suddaby Jolliffe. They had one child before her sudden death in 1938. The next year Jolliffe married Lillian Lebowitz. He died August 1, 1961 survived by his wife and son.