Department of Nutritional Sciences
All programs in the Department of Nutritional Sciences strive to train students to become leaders in nutrition who are able to integrate the span of knowledge from molecules to organisms to populations with the goal of improving human health.
The Department of Nutritional Sciences offers a breadth of educational, research, and experiential opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students that provide them with the foundational knowledge and skills to pursue careers in research, pre-professional, industry, food systems management, and community settings.
Nutritional Sciences Academic Programs
Graduate Program in Nutrition Receives National Ranking
Recently released results from the National Research Council ranks the Penn State Graduate Program in Nutritional Sciences among the nation's best.
American Society for Nutrition Meeting at Experimental Biology, Boston, April 20-23, 2013
Barbara Rolls received the 2013 David Kritchevsky Outstanding Nutrition Career Award. Catharine Ross was inducted as a Fellow of the American Society for Nutrition and she was also recognized for her outstanding service as Editor of the Journal of Nutrition.
Eating diets high in sugar and fat may not affect the health outcomes of older adults ages 75 and up, suggesting that placing people of such advanced age on overly restrictive diets to treat their excess weight or other conditions may have little benefit, according to researchers at Penn State and Geisinger Healthcare System.
"Historically people thought of older persons as tiny and frail," said Gordon Jensen, head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at Penn State, "but that paradigm has changed for many older persons. more>>
A new systematic assessment of malnutrition, created by researchers at Penn State, will aid dietitians and other health care providers in diagnosis and treatment.
Up to 50 percent of patients in hospitals and nursing facilities are estimated to be malnourished, according to Gordon Jensen, professor and head of nutritional sciences, Penn State. Although malnutrition is widespread, confusion exists in the clinical community on how to best make this diagnose. Malnourished patients are frequently not identified as such, and those not affected are sometimes thought to be malnourished. more >>
Leann Birch, distinguished professor of human development and family studies and professor of nutritional sciences at Penn State, and Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State, have received awards from the American Society for Nutrition. more >>
A new book by Barbara Rolls, professor of nutritional sciences and Helen A. Guthrie Chair in Nutrition at Penn State, aims to help people control their hunger while also losing weight. "The Ultimate Volumetrics Diet" will be available in stores and online on April 10. "There is no magic way to get around the fact that to lose weight you must reduce the calories you consume to below the number you burn," Rolls said. "However, cutting calories doesn't have to leave you feeling hungry. You can carefully choose the foods you eat so that you feel full and satisfied on fewer calories." more >>
The preference for fatty foods has a genetic basis, according to researchers at Penn State, Columbia University, Cornell University and Rutgers University, who discovered that people with certain forms of the CD36 gene may like high-fat foods more than those who have other forms of this gene. The results help explain why some people struggle when placed on a low-fat diet and may one day assist people in selecting diets that are easier for them to follow. The results also may help food developers create new low-fat foods that taste better. "Fat is universally palatable to humans," said Kathleen Keller, assistant professor of nutritional sciences, Penn State. The scientists examined 317 African-American males and females because individuals in this ethnic group are highly vulnerable to obesity and, therefore, are at greatest risk for obesity-related diseases. more >>
For parents, getting kids to eat more vegetables can be a challenge. In a new study, researchers at Penn State have found that by adding puréed vegetables to favorite foods, preschool children consumed nearly twice as many vegetables and 11 percent fewer calories over the course of a day. “Childhood obesity rates are on the rise, and at the same time children are not eating the recommended amount of vegetables," said Barbara Rolls. "Vegetables have been shown to help lower calorie intake. The problem is getting kids to eat enough vegetables.”
According to a new report from the National Institute of Medicine, limiting television and other media use, encouraging infants and young children in preschool and child care to spend more time in physically active play, and requiring child care providers to promote healthy sleeping practices are some of the actions needed to curb high rates of obesity among America's youngest children. Leann Birch, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State, chaired the NIH committee who produced the report. Read more about the report and the recommendations to curb obesity among young children.