| Alumni, faculty and students celebrated on March 10 the double anniversary of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition programs of the UAMS College of Health Professions.
College and university leaders spoke on Zoom about the history and accomplishments of the programs leading up to the 50th anniversary of the post-baccalaureate dietetics internship program and the 30and anniversary of the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition program.
Minutes after the online celebration, Cara Ebbeling, Ph.D., gave a Zoom presentation on “Two Decades of Studying Low Glycemic Load Diets for Weight Control: What Do We Know in 2022?”
Ebbeling is co-director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School.
In 50 years, the internship has trained more than 700 people in preparation for dietitian careers and more than 100 master’s students in different areas of clinical nutrition.
“Our graduates have touched countless lives over five decades of applied learning, research, and community outreach,” said Reza Hakkak, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Dietetics and Nutrition. “I am confident that we will continue to play an important role in improving health conditions in Arkansas and the country.”
Hakkak taught in the department for 30 years, and for 25 of those years he was chairman. He said it was impossible to recount in one presentation all the ways he has seen the programs mature and grow, but he shared with the audience a defining moment during an accreditation visit there several years.
“Visitors to the dietetic internship site reported their findings to the chancellor and management,” Hakkak said. “Everyone was in the room, and the Chancellor at that time had a page in front of him. He said, ‘This is empty. Where is the report ? The site visitor said, “There is nothing to report. It’s a great program,” and they started talking about the strengths of our program.
Chancellor Cam Patterson, MD, MBA, renewed attention to the centrality of healthy eating to overall individual health and well-being, Hakkak said.
Patterson addressed the online audience in a pre-recorded video.
“The work of dietitians and nutrition specialists graduating from these programs will play a key role in the prevention and treatment of nutrition-related diseases and chronic conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease,” said the Chancellor. “Nutritional intervention and counseling are important parts of health plans at all stages of people’s lives.”
Two years ago, UAMS launched a Culinary Medicine program to teach students and residents how to educate their patients about nutrition and incorporate it into their future practice of medicine, building on the many years during which Hakkak and department faculty members did the same with doctors and other UAMS students.
“If UAMS is to meet the population health goals in the Vision 2029 strategic plan to reduce health disparities in Arkansas, if we are to meet our state’s health workforce needs, and if we must train nutrition scientists who seek to expand their knowledge of food as medicine, we need these programs to continue to grow and thrive,” said Stephanie Gardner, Ed.D., Pharm.D., director of The strategy.
Robert McGehee, Ph.D., Dean of the UAMS Graduate School, observed that mankind has been engaged in the study of nutrition since the dawn of time, but the science of nutrition is a relatively new field. .
“Only in the past 50 years have we been able to provide accurate information to patients and populations about what good nutrition is,” McGehee said. “Every year we learn so much more than we don’t know. I would say that nutritional science is still in its infancy. We still have a long way to go, but what a remarkable anniversary to celebrate today.
Despite its relatively young life as a science, dietetics and nutrition continues to diversify as a field and find new areas of application.
“Opportunities for the profession are emerging in areas such as marketing, advertising, sales, journalism, sports nutrition and many more,” said the Dean of the UAMS College of Health Professions, Susan Long, Ed.D. “As these opportunities grow, the faculty will focus on preparing the next generation of dietetics professionals for these emerging roles. The program continues to adapt and transform to meet the needs of students and employers.
Other college and departmental leadership and faculty who spoke at the anniversary celebrations included Tina Maddox, Ph.D., associate dean of the college at the Northwestern Regional Campus. UAMS; Courtney Fose, MS, RD, Director of the Dietetic Internship Program; and Lesley Jones, MS, RD, program instructor.
Nutrition Seminar Series
“I want to say how honored I am to have been asked to present in March 2022, which is National Nutrition Month, the 50and anniversary of the dietetic internship program and your 30and anniversary of the Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition program,” said Cara Ebbeling during her presentation at the Nutrition Seminar. “Congratulations and best wishes for many more successful years in Arkansas.”
Hakkak created the seminar series over 21 years ago to bring the latest findings and knowledge in clinical nutrition to the university’s academic community with language and communications that would be understandable by health professionals outside of the areas of dietetics and nutrition.
Ebbeling said the low glycemic index model was the subject of much of his own research. In this model, the quality of carbohydrates a person consumes plays a key role and can promote insulin secretion, which directs metabolic fuels to fat storage.
“There is an increase in hunger and a decrease in energy expenditure leading to a positive energy balance. In this model, a positive energy balance does not lead to an increase in adiposity,” she said.
While there’s a lot of debate between proponents of the “conventional calorie-in and calorie-out model” and scientists like her exploring the carbohydrate insulin model, there are points of agreement, Ebbeling said. . They are this:
- Diets that vary widely in macronutrient composition can lead to short-term weight loss.
- Compliance with any dietary prescription is an important factor determining the effectiveness of weight loss treatments.
- Treatments to maintain weight loss over the long term are very ineffective.
A hybrid nutrition plan combining both schools of thought can help resolve the debate. The two can work together to promote increased body mass, she said.
In the meantime, Ebbeling said, she has specific recommendations for dietary changes for weight loss and overall health. These include a reduction in the consumption of refined grains, potato products and added sugars, which have a high glycemic load and low nutritional quality.
“We emphasize low glycemic load carbohydrate sources, including non-starchy foods like legumes and non-tropical fruits,” she says. “We suggest whole grains or traditionally processed alternatives such as whole barley, quinoa, and sour dough traditionally fermented from stone-ground flour.”
Ebbeling added that eating more nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil and other high-fat foods and maintaining an adequate but not too high intake of protein will also help a healthy lifestyle.
During a question-and-answer session, Hakkak asked Ebbeling if she would advise nutritional education and follow-up consultations with registered dietitians to remind patients to continue losing weight.
“Continued support is absolutely necessary,” Ebbeling said. “What we’re trying to do with these low glycemic approaches is to reduce hunger and increase satiety to facilitate long-term adherence. We don’t say, ‘Here, do this, and the weight will drop.’ There is always a compliance component, a behavioral health component, and environmental influences. If we promote a low glycemic diet, that doesn’t remove the need for peer support.