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July 2007

Didactic Programs to Review Success and Plan for the Future

Two of the long standing programs in the Foods and Nutrition Department, the Coordinated Program in Dietetics (CPD), formerly called the Coordinated Undergraduate Program (CUP), and the Didactic Program in Dietetics (DPD) will go through the reaccreditation process this school year.  Every ten years the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) accredits the CPD and for the first time this year will include the undergraduate DPD programs in their accreditation process.  Dietetic Student

The process involves the completion of a self-study that includes evaluations from current and former students.  The evaluations collect valuable feedback about how the programs prepared them for their careers.  The feedback helps ensure that the department is providing the highest quality education and training for future Registered Dietitians.  In addition to the evaluation by students, site visitors will meet with alumni to ensure they had a positive experience.  “Individuals from the outside can provide a new perspective that we might not otherwise see,” says Carol Boushey, Associate Professor and Director of the Coordinated Program in Dietetics. 

The CPD and the DPD programs depend on the strong alumni base to provide mentoring to the students.  Students in the DPD program are often looking for volunteer or shadowing experiences to give them a real world experience.  For the CPD program, many alumni are preceptors for the community rotation, the food service rotation, the medical nutrition therapy rotation, the capstone rotation, and the specialty rotation.  For the next submission, the CPD is going to combine the capstone and specialty rotations to create a six week specialty rotation that will allow the students the opportunity to participate in an international experience in Ireland or Australia.  

The reaccreditation process is a wonderful opportunity for the Foods and Nutrition Department to make already excellent programs even better and to set the course for the next tens years!  

Is Personalized Nutrition Just Around the Corner?

Dr. James Fleet, in partnership with Dr. David Salt of the College of Agriculture, has recently been awarded funds to initiate a new iinterdisciplinary research center in Discovery Park. The Center for Gene-Environment Interactions is aimed at understanding the DNArelationship between genetics and environmental factors like diet. Traditionally viewed as independent influences, genetics and environmental cues are now known to interact to influence the health and well-being of people, plants, and animals. The challenge for the center will be to integrate these distinct disciplines.

According to Dr. Fleet, the Center will address two main questions: (1) How does a person’s genetic make-up influence their response to their environment (especially diet)? and, (2) Is this information something we can use to improve personal health?  While the use of family history is a simple example of how genetics can be used to define health and dietary recommendations, the completion of genome sequencing projects in humans, plants and animals has opened up entire new vistas for this field.  The initial projects in the Center will focus on the genetics influencing the metabolism of essential mineral nutrients known to be important for diseases like osteoporosis (calcium, phosphorus), cancer (selenium), hypertension (sodium, and potassium), and diabetes (zinc).  By coordinating projects in people, animal models, and agriculturally-important plants, the Center hopes to identify genetic predispositions affecting nutrient requirements and to develop plants with naturally enhanced nutrient composition that can improve the food supply.

The Center has a broad mission that includes providing campus leadership in the area of gene-environment interactions, facilitating research collaborations, and providing forums for discussing this important new area.  Of course, Dr. Fleet cautions that this is just the beginning of a new era and that while the goal of research in gene-diet interactions is personalized nutritional recommendations it will be a while before the benefits of this research reaches the public.

Fish for Your Health

There is much debate about what types of fish are safe to consume. Consumers can fish for information about healthy eating in their wallet thanks to a user-friendly card created by Dr. Charlie Santerre.Fish Dinner

"There is a two-prong message that can be confusing when it comes to eating fish," said Dr. Santerre. "Fish has valuable health benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids that benefit brain development in babies and cardiovascular health in adults. However, eating too much of certain fish can lead to higher mercury exposure which can harm your baby. This card is about getting the message out more efficiently that women should eat fish but also that not all fish are the same."

The "Fish for Your Health" card is available from the Indiana State Department of Health and its county offices, including: County Cooperative Extension offices; the Family Nutrition Program; and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. The card also will be distributed at the Indiana state fair and county fairs this summer. More than 300,000 cards have already been distributed.

The cards are designed to provide information for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or who may become pregnant, as well as for young children. These groups can benefit from the healthy fats, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), that are found in fish, said Santerre. The 2004 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that women eat 8 ounces of fish per week in order to obtain the healthy nutrients found in fish.

The card lists salmon, rainbow trout (farm-raised), herring, mackerel, sardines and whitefish as the best fish choices because they are lowest in mercury and highest in healthy fats. The card also highlights fish that have lower mercury levels, as well as fish childbearing-aged women should never eat because of high mercury levels, such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel and grouper.

IIf eaten regularly, mercury can harm the developing nervous system of a fetus or nursing infant. Pregnant or nursing women should also use caution when eating fish that is caught locally, Santerre said. The project is supported by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana State Department of Health. For more information visit the Fish Consumption Advisory website: http://fn.cfs.purdue.edu/fish4health/.




Foods & Nutrition Department
Stone Hall, Room 213
700 West State Street
West Lafayette, IN

Phone: (765) 494-8228
Fax: (765) 494-0674

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