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Charles Ehret, 83; researcher known for developing a diet to fight jet lag

March 03, 2007|From the Chicago Tribune

Charles F. Ehret, a scientist whose pioneering research at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois led to the development of a popular diet to combat the effects of jet lag, died Feb. 24 at his home in Grayslake, Ill., from natural causes. He was 83.

In 1983, Ehret and coauthor Lynne Waller Scanlon published the book "Overcoming Jet Lag," outlining a special diet to help avoid jet lag using a planned rescheduling of meal times, including types and amounts of food to be eaten. It also specifies alternate days of feasting and fasting to help speed adjustment to new time zones.

"After his book came out, he received calls from all over -- people planning trips for everyone from President Ronald Reagan to the rock band Aerosmith," said his son John.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Ehret was a graduate of City College of New York. He received a doctorate in zoology from the University of Notre Dame.

In World War II, Ehret served in the Army's 87th Infantry Division and fought in several battles, including the Battle of the Bulge. He was awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, family members said.

In 1951, Ehret began working at Argonne National Laboratory, where during the 1950s and 1960s he did research identifying circadian rhythms in animals, and later human beings. This work led him to develop a diet that could help the body adjust to time shifts, particularly for shift workers or passengers traveling over several time zones.

According to Argonne officials, hundreds of thousands of travelers over the years have requested information on Ehret's anti-jet-lag diet.

"Charles was a top-notch scientist who wanted to use his research to improve the quality of people's lives," said Ken Groh, a former colleague and network specialist at Argonne. "People called him wanting to learn more about his diet, and he'd talk with everyone -- moms and dads, teachers, heads of corporations, or anyone else interested in what he had to say."

Ehret retired in 1988.

In addition to his son John, survivors include his wife of 61 years, Dorothy; three more sons, Thomas, Peter, and Albert; two daughters, Louise Legler and Julia Buckley; 14 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

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