Mizzou could change the way Americans eat. The university is home to many of the nation’s leading food and nutrition researchers, and they are working together to reverse America’s obesity epidemic.
Scientists in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, School of Medicine, and College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources teamed up to establish the MU Nutritional Center for Health (MUNCH). Their goal: to ﬁnd new ways to improve how Americans eat and teach adults and children healthy eating and exercise habits.
To study eating, MUNCH scientists need a new laboratory. The team is creating a teaching kitchen and food choice lab in the basement of Gwynn Hall. The project has received $200,000 from the J.R. Albert Foundation and $5,000 from Donna Medlin, BS HE ’77.
"Nutrition is still such an emerging science," says Medlin, food and nutrition services director at St. John’s Hospital in Springﬁeld, Mo. "We need to be able to translate food science into nutrition and to see its effect on people. The university has all the pieces to make it work."
The program’s new teaching kitchen will be used to instruct children and their families on how to prepare high-quality, healthy foods. The observational food choice lab will help researchers understand how children make food choices.
Chris Hardin, director of the center and chair of the department of nutritional sciences at MU, has been studying obesity for years and has partnered with researchers in agriculture, comparative and clinical medicine, public policy and journalism to seek answers.
"You can teach people what and how to eat," Hardin says. "But we’re all busy, and people ultimately have to make their own choices."
Hardin is actively raising funds for Phase II, construction of a research metabolic kitchen to prepare precise, nutrient-controlled meals. "The metabolic kitchen will allow researchers to conduct prolonged human trials," he says. "These trials will allow us to understand how food and agricultural practices affect human health and chronic disease." –Adapted from the HES Vanguard magazine, 2009