In line with my project CONSUMEHealth and in accordance with my supervisor Dr. Cristina Mora of the University of Parma, I planned to interview several experts in the field of food and nutrition here at Cornell.
In this post I am going to describe some of the people I talked with in the last couple of months and their interests and studies.
First I interviewed my colleague and friend Sandra Cuellar-Healey, an expert in Food Marketing and Food Science and currently researcher at the Dyson School at Cornell. Her work is to investigate what interventions and concrete tools in the food sector, including policy makers and health professionals, need to be done to promote healthy food choices in the school food environment. She believes that the social pressure of friends, family, and society in general play a crucial role in our everyday eating habits. Her motto is your type of diet has to make you “healthy and happy”, otherwise does not work.
Second, I spoke with David Levitsky, full professor at the Division of Nutritional Sciences, College of Human Ecology. Since always, Dr. Levitsky has been studying the food intake and regulation of body weight. In particular, in the last years, his team of research has investigated the effects of being weighed before eating a meal and how much food is then purchased and consumed (both in a lab and in a cafeteria). He is also interested in the strategies to prevent the weight gain in young students (the so-called phenomena “freshman 15” referred to the idea that a student during the first year of College gains the weight of 6.8 kg) and other issues related to young adult population and correct diet. According to David, individuals can control themselves if they have the correct tool to understand their behavior.
From the left: Sandra, David, Dennis and Jennifer
Then I interviewed Dennis Miller, Professor of Food Chemistry and Nutrition in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University. His applied research and teaching activities aim to create knowledge on the link between nutrition, food science and agriculture. He explained to me how and why in the coming decades one of the greatest challenges will be to provide a sustainable, nutritionally balanced and safe food to everyone.
Finally I met Jennifer Wilkins, who worked in the faculty of the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University and now is a Professor at the Falk College of Syracuse University. Her research includes exploring the interests and practices related to local foods among school catering service and the implications of these strategies for improving diets quality for children. She also focused on ‘civic dietetics’ (term coined by her) which describes the emergence of integration of food system awareness into professional dietetics practice. She developed a regional food guide based on the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.
All these experts gave me insightful points of views and new perspectives on how to approach my research on healthy diet and consumers.