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Lecture talks Food for Thought

BY EFE AYANROUH | FEBRUARY 23, 2015 5:00 AM

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The importance of food and nutrition and their effect on families and communities was a topic at Sunday’s University of Iowa Presidential Lecture.

UI Professor Linda Snetselaar, also the director of the Nutrition Center and an associate provost, delivered the 32-annual Presidential Lecture “Food, Culture, Communities: Enhancing Our Families and Communities Through Food and Nutrition” at the Levitt Center.

“Families matter, and families can make a difference,” Snetselaar said during the lecture.

She noted the importance of families when choosing food.

According to research, she said, families who eat together have lower cases of depression among children and teenagers.

“It helps them cope with difficult situations,” she said. “The idea of bonding and creating memories makes it more important.”

Communities are in the center of what families do, and as a result, she said, a heathy lifestyle needs to be cultivated because it will affect the lifestyle of families.

Snetselaar has conducted research in Muscatine on the eating habits in the community. In the course of three years, she has created a focus group geared toward educating fourth- and fifth-graders and their families on healthy eating habits.

The world of food and nutrition is continually changing, she said, as food and nutrition research has progressed.

She has also done research that advanced diabetes treatment technology.

The lecture was inspired by spring’s “Food for Thought” semester theme.

The idea of theme semesters at the University of Iowa came from the University of Michigan, which has held theme semesters for a number of years.

This is the first theme semester at the University of Iowa.

One attendee said the lecture encouraged her to speak with others about what she learned.

“I work with some children at a place called the Spot, a program for under-privileged children here in Iowa City,” attendee Lisa Brooks said. “I will talk about eating with their families, encouraging them to try to have more meals together.”

Another said she came into the lecture with an open mind.

“I didn’t really know exactly what to expect,” Lynn Gallagher said. “I happen to be vegan because of ethical reasons. I think I eat pretty healthily. Eating healthily is important for your health and the environment.”

Snetselaar said UI Housing and Dining and Helena Laroche, a UI assistant professor of internal medicine, are working together to ensure healthier eating in the dining halls.

Another lecture for the theme semester — hosted by famed food journalist Mark Bittman — will be held April 8.


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