Nutrition Works for You.
Public health (Health aspects)
|Author:||LANG, SUSAN S.|
|Publication:||Name: Human Ecology Publisher: Cornell University, Human Ecology Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Science and technology; Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2001 Cornell University, Human Ecology ISSN: 1530-7069|
|Issue:||Date: Summer, 2001 Source Volume: 29 Source Issue: 3|
|Organization:||Organization: Cornell University|
|Geographic:||Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Code: 1USA United States|
A new web site lets you chat with nutrition experts, take courses,
link with professionals, and more.
One hundred years ago, home economics at Cornell was born with the hiring of Martha Van Rensselaer and her first bulletin, Saving Steps, an early outreach education tool to address the pressing needs of farmers' wives, the college's first targeted audience.
Fast forward 100 years: while the role of empowering targeted audiences with scientific knowledge for use in their daily lives is still an extension mission for what is now called the College of Human Ecology, the vehicle for dissemination has completely changed.
The Division of Nutritional Sciences is leading the pack of extension innovators with state-of-the-art Internet access to professional development opportunities for nutrition practitioners. Cornell NutritionWorks[C] provides both real-time interactive videoconferencing and asynchronous recorded audiovisual presentations by Cornell researchers, nutrition-related chats and discussion boards, short and long web-based courses for continuing education credits or professional growth, opportunities to ask questions of experts, and much more.
Despite the use of cutting-edge technology on the frontier of cyberspace to deliver the latest research findings to nutrition professionals, researchers in the Division of Nutritional Sciences employed one of the oldest research techniques to develop the web site: the survey.
"Just as Martha Van Rensselaer and Liberty Hyde Bailey asked farmers' wives which problems were their most important ones that Cornell should focus on, we also turned to our audience and asked what they needed," says Christine Olson, professor of nutritional sciences and the Hazel E. Reed Extension Professor in Family Policy, who unveiled the project to the public at the Human Ecology Centennial Celebration on March 31. She explained NutritionWorks at a special session, "A Contemporary Approach to Saving Steps." The Cornell NutritionWorks team, she said, started by asking about 2,000 New Yorkers where they would look for answers to nutrition questions. The research showed that 41 percent of the New York adults who responded to the survey got the food and nutrition information they needed from physicians, dietitians, and health professionals; 33 percent got it from books and the library; and 18 percent used the Internet. When asked which means of communication were the most important to them, 44 percent report ed classroom courses, 42 percent said the Internet, and 42 percent reported periodicals.
In addition, Carole Bisogni, professor of nutritional sciences, reported the results from in-depth interviews with 25 community nutrition practitioners from various regions of New York State concerning their professional development goals and needs. What do they need to learn about? How do they keep up-to-date on the latest research? Where do they go for information? How do they prefer to keep current in the future? Some of the practitioners interviewed felt professionally isolated and had difficulty finding the time and funds to travel for professional development. They sometimes used self-study courses as a way to get continuing education credits required to maintain their professional credentials.
"Many held multiple jobs with diverse responsibilities and reported that they wanted flexibility for continuing education in all areas of nutrition--a difficult challenge. They were eager to have more interaction with researchers as well as interactive learning opportunities with their peers, and they wanted practical tools for their practice," explains Bisogni. Bisogni conducted the interviews along with Carol Devine, associate professor of nutritional sciences, and Meg Connors, research support specialist in nutritional sciences.
"We knew that for New York citizens to be well-educated in terms of food and nutrition, we needed to keep nutrition professionals up-to-date with courses, to do it with the Internet, and to provide interactive components through which practitioners could communicate with peers and presenters," says Olson.
Cornell NutritionWorks is all these things and more. The web site comprises various interactive online vehicles and teleconferencing that deliver research-based nutrition information that professionals can apply to their practices. Its chats, discussion boards, and videoconferences not only allow professionals to share information and support but also provide mechanisms for nutrition professionals to earn continuing education credits.
Here are some of Cornell NutritionWorks' key features.
Twice a year, a one- to two-hour seminar is broadcast live to up to eight sites around New York State (and this list of sites probably will grow to offer regional access as well) where groups of community nutrition practitioners can watch the presentation live on a television monitor at each site and earn continuing education credits if they wish. The seminars also are archived online for later access by viewers who can hear the presentation and view the presenter's synchronized slide show at the same time. During the live presentation, participants can ask the researchers questions using Pic-Tel technology (special interactive television technology that allows groups at both ends to participate in real-time classroom discussion). Following the presentation are scheduled online chat sessions for in-depth questioning of presenters, the opportunity to follow up with the researchers via e-mail, an online discussion board for asynchronous communication with peers, and online references and supporting links.
In March, for example, Professor David Levitsky and Associate Professor Jeffery Sobal, both in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, presented "Biological, Environmental, and Sociological Influences on Body Weight."
Both of these presentations and the previous one, "Tailoring and Targeting Nutrition Messages to Diverse Communities," given by Marci Campbell of the University of North Carolina School of Public Health in October 2000, will be available for viewing online for continuing education credit this fall. Cornell NutritionWorks members will be able to earn these credits long after the live presentations by accessing the archived seminars and successfully taking an online quiz.
Ask the Nutrition Expert
Cornell NutritionWorks also encompasses the well-established Ask the Nutrition Expert web site. Launched in late 1998, the site has already posted over one dozen concise overviews by Cornell nutrition faculty on current nutrition-related topics from antioxidants to cultural, historical, and social influences on body weight. Although Ask the Nutrition Expert is also targeted to practicing professionals, anyone may access the web site and read the overviews.
"In addition," explains Stark, who coordinates this service, "readers may e-mail specific questions about the current topic during a two-month time frame and receive a personal reply from the expert. Then if the question is of general interest, it is posted on the web site along with the answer. When a new topic and expert are featured, the previous topic, including the questions and answers, are still available for viewing indefinitely in the archive."
The Ask the Nutrition Expert service is just one feature on the Cornell Cooperative Extension Food and Nutrition web site that can be accessed through NutritionWorks. The site also contains Timely Topics, which provides continuous updates on current food, nutrition, and food safety issues of consumer interest. Recent articles have covered topics ranging from children's food choices to health claims on food labels to mad cow disease. These articles often contain links to additional sources of information. The Food and nutrition web site also provides information on Cornell Cooperative Extension programs targeted to low-income families, children and youth, women, and communities; an annotated bibliography of nutrition education materials available for sale from the Cornell Resource Center; and a link to Cornell's Nutriquest, where users may ask a nutrition-related question and receive an answer from an upper-level undergraduate under faculty supervision.
The questions and answers are archived by topic for viewing year round. They include:
Tipping the Scales--Biology vs. Environment: How Much Do They Contribute to Our Body
Weight? by David A. Levitsky
Cultural, Historical, and Social Influences on Body Weight by Jeffery Sobal
Weight Gain in Pregnancy: A Major Factor in the Development of Obesity in Women? by Christine M. Olson
New Reference Charts for Assessing the Growth of Children by Edward A. Frongillo
Community Food Systems--Linking Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture by Jennifer Wilkins
Taste, Flavor, and Food Choice by Virginia Utermohlen
Understanding People's Food and Nutrition Stories: Using Dietary Trajectories to Improve Nutrition Practice by Carol Devine
Low-Carbohydrate Diets by David A. Levitsky
Antioxidant Nutrients by Joy E. Swanson
Food Insecurity by Christine M. Olson
Selenium by Gerald Combs
Folic Acid by Patrick Stover
|Gale Copyright:||Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.|