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June 2007

Camp Calcium celebrates 10 years at Purdue

This summer marks the continuation of one of the premier research programs on campus which is referred to as “Camp Calcium”.  "We're especially excited this Researchers performing bone scan on patientyear to be celebrating our 10th Camp Calcium," said Connie Weaver, distinguished professor and head of Purdue's Department of Foods and Nutrition. "It shows that our work has not only made an impact, but also that there are still pertinent answers to be found." 

This long standing research program continues to unravel the unknowns surrounding calcium digestion, absorption, and metabolism.  The diverse group of girls participating in Camp Calcium this summer is helping to answer questions about the effect of vitamin D on calcium absorption and the influence of calcium carbonate particle size on calcium absorption.  The 12 to 14 year old girls are living on the Purdue University West Lafayette campus as part of camp from June 13 through July 3 and July 11 through August 1. 

In the past, Camp Calcium has investigated factors that improve building bone during the rapid growth period of adolescence and dietary factors that influence weight maintenance and onset of diabetes. 

"We've learned a great deal over these previous nine sessions about how young people of all races process calcium differently," Weaver said. "We also know for certain that calcium intake during the adolescent years can shape bone health for the remainder of a person's life."


Symposium recognizes Dr. Gilbert L. Leveille

A departmental symposium honoring the distinguished career of Gilbert A. Leveille was held May 11.  With a career in nutrition spanning more than 50 years, Dr. Leveille received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Purdue University at the May commencement. Currently, Dr. Leveille serves as Executive Director of the Wrigley Science Institute.  In this capacity, he works with science and research communities to study the benefits of chewing gum related to weight management and satiety, reduction of situational stress, and the Dr. Gilbert Leveille headshotinfluence on brain activity and cognitive function.  Dr. Leveille is unique in the field of nutrition.  He is the only individual to have been president of the primary nutrition research organization, American Society for Nutrition, and the primary food science professional organization, Institute of Food Technologists.  His career spans positions in academia and industry.  As a result, the departmental activities honoring the contributions of Dr. Leveille’s many faceted career included a profile of nutrition scientists, food scientists, academia, and industry.

The Symposium, “A Tribute to a Career that Walked the Interface of Food Science and Nutrition” began with introductory remarks by Dr. Connie Weaver, chair of the Department of Foods and Nutrition.  The first speaker was Dr. David Baker from the University of Illinois.  Dr. Leveille and Dr. Baker crossed paths when Dr. Leveille was a professor of nutritional biochemistry at the University of Illinois.  Presently, Dr. Baker is an elected member to the National Academy of Sciences.  In his presentation, he shared that Dr. Leveille’s enthusiasm and active research lab was influential to him as he was starting his own career path.  Dr. Baker outlined his progress toward developing purified chemically defined diets for nutrition and metabolism studies in pigs, chicks, rats, mice, cats, and dogs. This work, which he described as “by design and by accident”, has led to much of the present information of how vitamins and trace minerals interact with amino acids in the body.

Dr. Dale Romsos from Michigan State University spoke next about Dr. Leveille’s influence on his research while Dr. Leveille was professor and chairman in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University.  Dr. Romsos described his colony of Lep(ob)/Lep(ob) mice which are considered one of the ideal animal models for identifying metabolic influences of obesity especially as related to leptin.

After retiring from academics, Dr. Leveille was recruited into industry by the General Foods Corporation.  Subsequently, he held positions with Nabisco, Inc. and McNeil Consumer Healthcare.  He founded the consulting firm of Leveille Associates before joining Cargill.  Dr. Bill Aimutis from Cargill spoke about the ability of Dr. Leveille to bring together food scientists, nutritionists, and engineers to solve food production and food processing problems. 

Dr. Johanna Dwyer from Tufts University spoke about the need to reconsider dietary recommendations given the current obesity epidemic and food environment.  The symposium ended with a panel chaired by Dr. Guy Johnson of Nutrition Solutions and featuring Richard Black from Kraft Foods, Shridhar Sathe from Florida State University, and Kathleen McMahon from the Wrigley Science Institute.  The richness of the presentations represented a fitting tribute to Dr. Leveille’s significant contributions to the understanding of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and his prolific career of 220 manuscripts, 17 books and book chapters and eight patents.


Food and Nutrition programs observe Hunger Awareness Day

People often generously contribute to food banks around the holidays.  Yet according to Laura Palmer, a Purdue University Cooperative Extension Specialist in the Department of Foods and Nutrition, “People may not realize that individuals experienceVolunteers unpacking food at food bank hunger year-round not just around the holidays”.  The idea of people being hungry in this land of plenty amid an obesity epidemic certainly appears incongruous.  However, according to national data collected annually by the U.S. Census Bureau, more than one in 10 households in the United States experience hunger or the risk of hunger.  More than 35 million Americans lack access to food and some people in these households skip meals or eat too little - sometimes going without food for a day.

These surprising statistics were shared as part of the Hunger Awareness Day activities on June 5th this year.  Emergency Food Assistance Programs all over the state of Indiana coordinated activities to communicate with the public that hunger is still a problem in the United States.  This year’s celebration adopted the theme, "The Face of Hunger Will Surprise You" and was promoted by America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest food bank network.  "This day serves as a platform for domestic hunger relief organizations to raise awareness about hunger in America” notes Palmer. "Hunger Awareness Day gave us the opportunity to coordinate our efforts in focusing the nation's attention on one of the most solvable problems facing every community in America."

Some program leaders in Indiana counties organized events for Hunger Awareness Day. Lynn Schocke, Family Nutrition Adviser with the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service in Madison County, modified the traditional Purdue tailgate.  She and others set up a tailgate food giveaway in the parking lot at St. John's Lutheran Church in Anderson, Indiana.  Schocke, who works with the federally funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, provides information to families of limited income about making healthy food choices within their income restrictions. Food demonstrations and cooking classes are offered at food pantries to provide healthy meal ideas.  The demonstrations include the commodity foods that clients may select from the food pantries.

"People on limited incomes are doing the best they can, but sometimes their circumstances force them to choose between food and buying gas or paying the electric bill," Schocke says. "Often the less healthy foods are the inexpensive foods, but we provide information about making better food choices with a tight budget or by using resources from the food pantries."

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, Indiana's Food for the Hungry Program, and the Family Nutrition Program work in tandem as part of the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service to provide education and resources to combat hunger and lack of food for high risk audiences year round. The interventions conducted as part of these programs have been shown to improve the diets of low resource audiences.  Heather Eicher-Miller, a doctoral student in the Department of Foods and Nutrition, helped conduct a randomized controlled study among participants of the Family Nutrition Program.  She found that those individuals receiving lessons delivered by Family Nutrition Advisers significantly improved their food security status compared to a control group that received delayed lessons. 

The Expanded Food and Nutrition Program began in 1969 and the program is found in every state. In 2006, the Indiana program reached more than 7,400 people from 2,099 Hoosier families with young children. More than 14,975 sessions were taught to participants, and 91 percent reported they improved their nutritional habits.

The Family Nutrition Program is a nutrition education program that targets limited resource individuals and families in Indiana. Support for the program comes from the Purdue Cooperative Extension Service in partnership with Indiana Family & Social Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The program offers educational programs focusing on nutrition and meal planning, food purchasing, preparation and safety, and resource management to food stamp eligible Indiana residents.

Indiana's Food for the Hungry Program is a partnership with The Emergency Food Assistance Program of Indiana within the Lieutenant Governor's office. The program provides practical application-based food safety and nutrition information to volunteers and staff who handle food in not-for-profit food assistance organizations, such as food pantries, soup kitchens, and congregate meal sites. For more information about Purdue Cooperative Extension programs contact Laura Palmer, MS, RD at lpalmer@purdue.edu or by phone: 765-496-2626.



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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