If you haven’t heard the buzz, the nutrition department just got back from their yearly spring break trip abroad. This year they traveled to Italy and Greece and spent 8 days diving into the culture. In previous years they’ve travelled throughout France to explore the magnificent food and culture. It is an incredible and immersive trip that is sure to inspire your next venture. Next year’s trip is already in the works, so be sure to stay on the lookout from Dr. Subach for more information.
The nutrition department is also teaming up with the anthropology department to send students to Perugia, Italy. The program is 5 weeks long and explores culture and food sustainability through the Umbria Institute. The course runs in WCU Summer Session 1 (late May to the end of June) and earns students 3 anthropology credits. Interested? Contact Dr. DiGiovine or Dr. Monahan for more information!
WCupa Food Drive
Remember to #BringACanToCampus to help celebrate our new President, Dr. Christopher Fiorentino.
West Chester University will be hosting a campus-wide food drive to mark the inauguration of our new President, Dr. Christopher Fiorentino. The food drive will begin on March 28th and the University will continue to accept food donations through April 17th. To help the University celebrate our new President, current students, alumni as well as friends and family of the University are encouraged to #BringACanToCampus.
Dr. Fiorentino has a special connection to our University through his daughter, Diana. Diana is a proud alumnus of West Chester University’s Nutrition and Dietetics Program and is currently a practicing Registered Dietitian.
The food drive is being proudly supported by the Student Dietetic Association, the Sports Nutrition Club, and student volunteers from our Nutrition and Dietetics Program. Our supporters will be collecting food donations from various drop-off points, discussing food insecurity with donors, and helping to promote the food drive at ShopRite in West Chester on Sunday, April 2nd. We hope that you are able to support the food drive and help commemorate a historic moment for our University.
The Say in PA
Programs for healthy and affordable food in philly
According to the Feeding America’s Map the Meal Gap, 22% of Philadelphia residents are food insecure. That is 7% above the national average. Two programs, Vetri Community Partnership and Share Food Program, joined together to make healthy food more accessible and affordable to children, families, and community members in Philadelphia. Vetri Community Partnership’s mobile teaching kitchen and the Share Food Program’s mobile farm park their trucks throughout the city, specifically at schools and community centers, to help community members gain access to healthy food. Vetri’s mobile teaching kitchen, which contains enough cooking tools for 24 participants, teaches community members how to cook simple recipes that take about 15 minutes. Share’s mobile farm sells fresh produce, meat, and poultry for an affordable price. Community members can purchase ingredients from the cooking demonstration or make their own choices on which food to buy. They sell individual ingredients or boxes of food, similar to Blue Apron, for half the price as grocery stores. The mobile farm accepts SNAP food ACCESS cards, cash, or credit. These programs can be beneficial for community members by allowing them to learn simple cooking techniques and gain access to healthy food.
On January 1, 2017, the soda tax in Philadelphia took effect. The tax added 1.5 cents per ounce to the cost of sugar-sweetened beverages including soda, diet soda, juice, and other sweetened beverages. The money raised by the tax, an expected $91 million annually, will be used for improving school programs, community schools, parks, recreation centers, and libraries. It will also offer a tax credit for businesses that sell healthy beverages. Although, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney presented the tax as a revenue issue, the soda tax can create major health benefits for the residents of Philadelphia. The tax may cause more people to stop buying sweetened beverages which would benefit their health. By drinking more non-sugar drinks, such as water, the rates of diabetes and obesity can be decreased. A decrease in the consumption of soda and other sweetened beverages can lead to an increase in the improvement of health.
During April 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration gave a final ruling on the new requirement to add calories to restaurant menus and retail food establishments. Restaurants or food establishments must have a chain of twenty or more locations to be required to list the calories. Originally, the law was set to go into effect in December 2015 but the FDA was blacked from obtaining the funds to start and enforce the new labeling guidelines. After changing the rules, the FDA was able to comply with the requirements from the Omnibus Bill and will start to enforce the new regulation as of May 5, 2017 (Food and Drug Administration , 2016).
Calories are being added to menus to help decrease the amount of Americans that are obese or overweight. In theory, having a greater knowledge of the calories that are present in their food will help consumers make better decisions. Calorie counting can be difficult for consumers because they are unaware of the calories that are present in food, and therefore are making uninformed decisions. (Levine, 2017). Adding the calories to popular food retailer’s menu will help enable consumers to make better decisions when they are consuming food away from home. In a study observing Canada’s Health Check system, it was found that when restaurants voluntarily displayed nutrition information that it did influence consumer’s decisions. Among the 32% that were influenced by the information, about half decided to select an item that they perceived as healthier (White, Lillico, Vanderlee, & Hammond, 2016). This may reflect how the policy will work in the United States.
job postings & volunteer opportunities
Are you about to graduate? Do you have a job yet? Here are some useful tips to help you prepare for job applications and to search jobs that are related to the nutrition and dietetics field without having your RD!
Tips and Tricks
As a current student or as alumni, you are entitled to take advantage of the Twardowski’s Career Development Center which offers an array of services to help students kick start their career. If you need help with the beginning stages of creating and writing your resume or cover letters, you can check out videos to explain how to write your resume or cover letter and how to stand out as a stellar candidate. There are resume samples and word lists for you to review to help you write your resume. Best part about the career development center is that you can upload your resume and someone from the department will proof read and edit your resume using track changes. Always have another person review your resume.
Interviewing is a crucial aspect of getting your dream job because employers want to see your confidence and personality. Tips, such as what to do before, during or after an interview, are included on the career developments website. Expect employers to ask you questions about the company you are interviewing for, your personality, skills, strengths and weaknesses. Employers may ask you questions that don’t even pertain to the job you are interviewing for; interviewers like to see your reaction to questions and the way you handle yourself. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to conduct a mock interview. Call the office to schedule a one-hour appointment to practice your skills and to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses during an interview.
Upon graduation from the nutrition and dietetics program, not every student is on the path to become an RD, or at least not right away. And that’s totally okay! Here are job tips and opportunities for you keep in mind and may want to start applying for before the graduation date. This may also be great work experience for those will be applying for the Dietetic Internship a little bit later down the road!
- Use job search engines such as the WCU career center, indeed.com, or monster.com
- Use keywords such as “nutrition”, “wellness”, “health and wellness”, “dietetics”, “research”, “nutrition/health coach,”etc. Search through specific hospitals, universities, or companies job sites as well as the US government jobs website
- Think about all areas of nutrition such as clinical, food service, or community. Even if a job description says 2+ (or more) years of experience, still apply!
- Believe in yourself!
Become a Community Health Coach in the Greater Philadelphia area for the Alzbetter company. The link below is specific to the geriatric population. If you are great with working and educating older people and their families, this may be the position for you!
Looking to get into sales? Use your healthcare knowledge to become a pharmaceutical sales representative, and Johnson & Johnson is a great company to start working for! The listing below is specific to Reading, PA, but as a global company, you could work almost anywhere in the nation. Generally, having a driver’s license and car is required to become a sales rep.
Have a special interest in research? Check out hospitals or universities job listings in Philadelphia, such as Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia or the University of Pennsylvania. The link below is for clinical research office support, which would be a great way to gain more exposure and experience to the world of research!
CityTeam is a nondenominational Christian nonprofit compassionately serving the poor, the homeless, and the lost in San Jose, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Oakland, Portland, and around the world. Since 1957, CityTeam has been serving people in extreme poverty and helping them transform their lives, their families and their communities. Today, with the help of volunteers and faithful donors, CityTeam is impacting the lives of over 500,000 people each year just in the United States. They are training and equipping local leaders in 51 countries to love God, reach out to their neighbors, and disciple hundreds of thousands of people each year. Located at 634 Sproul St, Chester, PA 19013. Volunteer slots are 3 hours long.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-872-6865
Camp Cedarbrook is a Christian camp that provides a safe, supportive place for girls to seek new opportunities and challenges. Campers experience achievement and build their self-confidence and courage to try new things. Within a structured setting, campers pursue personal interests in their chosen activity areas, such as archery, kayaking, and crafts, and collaborate with their bunk group in shared activities. Each camper learns outdoor living skills that will enable her to be comfortable and independent in the great outdoors.
Camp Cedarbrook is looking for Christian women to work as food service assistants. Their kitchen serves family style for 200 people a week. Responsibilities include all aspects of food preparation and general kitchen clean up. This is a paid position with room and board provided running from June 14 through August 9. Located at 59 Davignon Rd, Corinth, NY 12822. Application deadline is 5/15/17.
Contact: Megan Maiello Assistant Director email@example.com or 518-608-6800
Nutrition Internship in South Africa
Interning on Projects Abroad’s Nutrition Project in South Africa is a chance for you to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition and gain meaningful practical experience. Based in Muizenberg, Cape Town the Nutrition Project focuses on improving nutrition in township communities. These areas are deeply affected by numerous hygiene-related illnesses, a lack of access to medical care, and high rates of HIV/AIDS. By providing nutritious meals and conducting assessments, screenings, and workshops, they are aiming to help those facing these challenges.
There is no application deadline and the dates are flexible. You can start any project on any day. When you apply, you will specify the start and end dates. Projects run year round and have volunteers arriving almost every day. You can be there from 2 weeks all the way to 52 weeks in duration depending on the dates you choose. The cost varies based on how long you are there as well.
$ Gluten-free dough $
Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation
Academy membership required!
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation provides scholarships to students who are entering the dietetic world and go above and beyond other students. The scholarships provide opportunities at all levels in hopes of building a diverse community in the workforce.
Use the link to view various important forms such as recommendation forms and instructions to know whether or not you’re qualified for the scholarships. There is an online application as well as many FAQ on scholarships. Between the years 2015-2016 The Foundation Scholarship Committee has awarded over 381 dietetic graduate and undergraduate students providing $545,000 in scholarships. Awards range from $500 to $10,000 each year.
- Students must be enrolled in one of the following programs a minimum of 4 months during the academic year (August 2017-July 2018)
- Junior or senior of a baccalaureate or coordinate program in dietetics or the second-year study in a dietetic tech or internship program or graduate degree
- Membership in a specific dietetic practice group or residency of a specific state may be required
- A scholarship may be earmarked for underrepresented groups
- Apply by Monday, April 17 5:00pm (central time)
- Make sure you apply the year before the scholarship is applicable
- Applicants will be notified in August
Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke Scholarship
The American Heart Association (AHA) is providing various scholarships for as many as five students per institution while working on a two-month long project. These scholarships can range anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000. These scholarships may be used for various student expenses, lab fees, or any other costs the student may have during their research project.
The minimum full time commitment for this project is two months with most projects taking place over the summer. Most students find that the summer is the best time to complete these projects. The top recipient of the Student Scholarships in Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke will be presented with the Howard S. Silverman Scholar award. This student will receive an extra $1,000 stipend. After the program has come to an end the student will submit their progress reports containing various information and involvement with this project as well as their goals and observations. Failure to submit these various reports will make the student ineligible for future awards. All reports must be submitted before scholarship payments may be made.
Sponsored by the committee of representatives of the AHA scientific councils will select institutions based on the quality of one’s proposals and the student’s academic achievement.
The institution must appoint a preceptor to guide the student through this scholarship journey. The preceptor will fully accept the responsibility for the program and the supervision and competition of the formal reports.
- Students must be attending a medical school or master’s equivalents (Graduate Student)
- Must be a resident of the United States and attending a school where research training on cardiovascular disease and stroke is available
- March 31, 2017 – Sponsor deadline – required
- Application window opened on January 20, 2017
Daunting Diet Soda
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position on nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS) is that they can be safely consumed within current federal nutrition recommendations (1). The Academy goes on to say that “All NNS approved for use in the United States are determined to be safe”. The federal agency who approves the safety of additives is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA sets the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for aspartame, a common sweetener in diet sodas, at 50 mg/kg/d. To reach this dose an average person would need to consume about 19 cans of diet coke (2) before going over the ADI. Despite the FDA approval and the Academy’s position on aspartame, concerns regarding safety still linger. In this article, I will evaluate the FDA food additive and aspartame approval process, metabolism, and concerns regarding aspartame.
To obtain approval from the FDA for a new food additive, a voluminous amount of data must be presented regarding the safety of the product. Some of the studies provided may then be audited by independent parties such as the FDA and Universities Associated for Research and Education in Pathology (UAREP) for authenticity (3). A public hearing will then be held to discuss the evidence regarding the product and concerns can be voiced. After a hearing the product can be decided by the board as being conclusively safe for the public or not conclusive enough.
Aspartame was originally accepted by the FDA for public use in 1974. The creators of aspartame presented 168 studies (4) as evidence to the safety of the sweetener. At the hearing, there was voiced concern that some of the research did not clearly address the risk of mental retardation and spontaneous brain tumors due to aspartame consumption. Therefore, further studies were carried out and showed that six times the highest projected consumption of aspartame doesn’t approach anywhere near the toxic levels (3). An extensive audit was conducted by the FDA and UAREP for fifteen of the original presented studies. In 1983 aspartame was approved for use in carbonated beverages. The commissioner of the FDA at the time of approval stated, “Few compounds have withstood such detailed testing and repeated, close scrutiny, and the process through which aspartame has gone should provide the public with additional confidence of its safety” (3). However, the FDA has an exception to this rule for those with a rare disease known as phenylketonuria. These individuals have a hard time metabolizing phenylalanine which is a metabolite of aspartame (5).
Aspartame is metabolized into phenylalanine, aspartate, and methanol. Phenylalanine and aspartate are amino acids which are consumed in larger amounts from other food sources. A serving of non-fat milk provides about 6-9 times the amount of phenylalanine and 13 times more aspartic acid than an aspartame sweetened beverage. Methanol is also consumed throughout other foods. A serving of tomato juice has 4-6 times the amount of methanol (6). The original concerns voiced at the hearing were regarding phenylalanine and aspartate. The toxic threshold for plasma phenylalanine for pregnant women will be reached if someone consumes 24 liters (6 gallons) of aspartame sweetened beverages in a single sitting (3). The toxic threshold is double this amount in children and non-pregnant adults. This would require ingesting 48 liters of aspartame sweetened beverages in a single sitting to reach the toxic threshold for plasma phenylalanine. Consuming the amount equal to 24 liters of aspartame sweetened beverages in a single sitting caused a normal rise in plasma aspartate/glutamate levels. This rise can be found after consuming food (3).These levels were also short lived and returned to baseline values after 3 hours.
The amount of methanol as a result of consuming aspartame is less than what is found in a diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, and fruit/vegetable juices. Pectin is found in the cell wall of plants. When it is metabolized, methanol is released. Apples, potatoes, brussel sprouts, and celery are all examples of foods that contribute to dietary methanol intake. According to the British government’s Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food (COT): “Consumption of 1kg apples was estimated to release 500 mg methanol” (7). If a person were to consume 22 cans of diet soda in a single sitting they would get 270 mg of methanol. This concentration is almost half of what is obtained from eating 2 lbs of apple. Our body breaks down the methanol into formaldehyde and then into formate, which will eventually be excreted in the urine (6). According to the FDA, “An adult human can metabolize up to 1500 milligrams of methanol per hour with no adverse symptoms or effects” (6). Therefore, ingestion of aspartame does not seem to show concern regarding blood methanol levels.
Concern still lingers about aspartame and its safety despite the approval by the FDA. None Government Organizations, many internet websites, and some individuals still express their concerns about the safety of aspartame. They usually refer to several research studies that show negative effects of aspartame. For example: the European Ramazzini Foundation (ERF), an organization that look into the potential carcinogenic effects of specific compounds, has conducted several studies that have shown that aspartame consumption increased several malignances in rats (8). The ERF concluded that aspartame consumed at and above 20/mg/kg/d were potentially carcinogenic. To reach this dose an average person would need to consume 10 cans of diet soda.
After an intensive investigation, the FDA (9), Health Canada (10) and the British government’s Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food,11 all felt the studies conducted by the ERF held no weight. The FDA reviewed the study design, conducted reliability tests, and evaluated the shortcomings of the studies and stated that: “we have identified significant shortcomings in the design, conduct, reporting, and interpretation of this study. The FDA finds that the reliability and interpretation of the study outcome is comprised by these shortcomings and uncontrolled variables, such as the presence of infection in the test animals” (9).
Aspartame was approved by the FDA and considered safe for public consumption at or under the intake of 50/mg/kg/d. This equates to about 19 cans of diet soda for an average person. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics position on non-nutritive sweeteners states that the public can safely consume these products.1 The FDA and the Academy help to allow the public to make informed decisions on these topics based on the totality of the evidence. The consumption and breakdown of aspartame doesn’t appear to be of concern even for someone who drinks 19 cans of soda per day, which is an unrealistic amount. Studies that have reported negative effects of aspartame have been found to be limited and flawed by regulatory agencies such as the FDA (9), Health Canada (10) and the British government’s Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food (11).
Omega-3 and me
With Finals Week quickly approaching, we, as Nutrition majors, know the connection between food and academic performance better than anyone. While balancing nutrient-dense meals, it is important that we incorporate essential fatty acids like Omega-3s. These fatty acids have been thoroughly researched and have proven to be one of the most beneficial groups of nutrients for your brain and overall health.
Omega-3 fatty acids are bioavailable in 3 forms: DHA, EPA, and ALA. DHA is the most potent when it comes to health benefits, followed by EPA and ALA. While DHA and EPA are derived from animal sources, ALA is exclusively found in plants and is broken down into small quantities of DHA and EPA in the body. No matter how you get it, you will surely feel the benefits of Omega-3s!
Take a look at how these super-fats help our bodies:
- Build brain cell membranes
- Reduce brain inflammation
- Promote new brain cell formation
- Improve both mood and memory
- Protect against brain disorders like depression and dementia
- Lower your risk for chronic disease such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and arthritis
So, how can you give yourself an Omega-3 brain boost to conquer your finals?
- Walnuts (2.3 g ALA per 1/4 cup)
- Dark leafy greens such as broccoli, kale, and spinach (0.1 to 0.8 g ALA per 1/2 cup)
- Flax seeds (1.6 g ALA per 1 Tbsp)
- Soybeans in any form (0.76 g ALA per 3/4 cup)
- Eggs from hens fed Omega-3 rich diets (0.54 g ALA and 0.26 DHA+EPA per 2 eggs)
- Salmon (2.1 g DHA+EPA per 100 g)
- Fatty fish such as herring, trout, sardines, and mackerel (0.9 to 2.0 g DHA+EPA per 100 g)
Hop on over to Giant or Whole Foods to stock up on these nutrient rich goods!