Drexel Nutrition Experts Available to Comment During National Nutrition Month

Experts from Drexel University’s Department of Nutrition Sciences are available to comment on a wide range of topics in nutrition, food, obesity prevention, and related issues during National Nutrition Month in March. Available experts and topics include:

Behavioral change in eating and exercise required to sustain weight loss

Dr. Stella Volpe (PhD, RD, LDN, FACSM) is professor and department chair in Nutrition Sciences in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.

  • Volpe is an expert in obesity and diabetes prevention and exercise physiology.
  • She is chair of the Science Board of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, and vice president of the American College of Sports Medicine.
  • Her research in obesity and diabetes focuses on mineral metabolism, exercise and diet trials, and changing the environment to encourage healthier eating and physical activity.

Quote from Volpe:

“Losing weight can be a difficult process, because people need to make behavioral changes to perhaps life-long habits. The major changes are decreasing portion sizes and increasing physical activity throughout the day. In one of our studies, we found that, by simply decreasing portion sizes in a university dining hall, we were able to prevent freshmen weight gain. Changes in portions and increased physical activity lead to a negative energy balance, and that will lead to successful, long-term weight loss.”

Food’s addictive qualities in the brain

Dr. Jennifer Nasser (PhD, RD), is an assistant professor in the department of Nutrition Sciences

  • Nasser is an expert in obesity, food addiction, food and nutrient effects on the brain.
  • Nasser does clinical research on dopamine-mediated mechanisms in the brain that influence food intake behavior.

Quote from Nasser: "Many people believe that obesity and food addiction are one and the same condition and that obesity is caused by food addiction. This has not been proven and a lot of data suggests that it is not true. For example, in our study on psychoactive effects of chocolate using a validated drug addiction questionnaire, (published in 2011) we showed positive effects from eating chocolate with a study population that was 97 percent lean and only 3 percent obese. However, the tendency to have loss of control while eating may make it difficult to lose weight and maintain a reduced body weight."

Food safety, healthy food access, and related cultural and economic factors

Dr. Jennifer Quinlan (PhD) is an associate professor in the department of Nutrition Sciences.

  • Quinlan is an expert in food safety and food access for minority populations.
  • Quinlan does research on food microbiology and ensuring food microbial safety.

Quote from Quinlan: “It's not enough to just tell low income and limited resource consumers to eat more fruits and vegetables. Often these populations have limited access to store and keep fresh produce or don't know how to prepare it. It's important that we also teach vulnerable populations about the value of frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables without salt and sugar that are good alternatives for incorporating produce into their families diets.”

Parents’ feeding practices effects on children’s relationship with food

Dr. Alison Ventura (PhD) is an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences.

  • Ventura is an expert in infant feeding practices, early childhood nutrition and obesity prevention during infancy and early childhood.
  • Ventura’s research focuses on factors contributing to feeding preferences during infancy and early childhood, including parent feeding practices and their relation to children's eating behavior.

Quote from Ventura: “Feeding practices are the choices parents make about which foods to offer; when, how frequently, and how much food to offer; and how to interact with children over food. Parents can help children develop healthy food preferences and eating behaviors by employing feeding practices that are patient, positive, and attentive to children’s hunger and fullness levels.”

Additional nutrition and food experts may be available.