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Nutrition column helps people make informed choices

December 12, 2012

Ever wondered how to incorporate healthy snacks into your eating plan? What about the dangers of trans fat? And most importantly, is chocolate really good for you? These are just a small sampling of the myriad of topics covered by CSU's nutrition column over the years.

Pat KendallThe column was begun in 1974 by Richard Dowdy, an extension nutrition specialist in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition. In 1976, after Dowdy left to take a position at another university, Pat Kendall took over writing the weekly column. Kendall, who currently serves as the associate dean for research in the College of Applied Human Sciences, served as professor and Extension specialist in food science and human nutrition. Kendall wrote the weekly column for thirty years. During that time, it was featured at various times by the Denver Post, the Fort Collins Coloradoan, the now defunct Rocky Mountain News, and 27 additional newspapers across the state.

Kendall published more than 1500 columns on nutrition, health, and food safety topics. A conversation with Kendall offers insight into how our knowledge of nutrition, behavior, and eating habits has evolved throughout the decades. She says, for example, “Childhood obesity wasn’t a problem when I started writing the column, but has become a challenging issue for society today.”

When Kendall was transitioning to retirement from her faculty position, she turned the column over to an Extension specialist in the department, Shirley Perryman. When Perryman took over, the format changed to a monthly rather than a weekly column, but maintained its wide distribution. Perryman wrote about whole grains, diabetes, summer smoothies, apple season, fruits and vegetables, and much more. “Writing the column was one of the best parts of my job, and I enjoyed the contact I had with the public as they would often email with questions or comments.”

Wdowik takes the lead

Perryman retired earlier this fall, and the column is now being written by the director of the Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center, Melissa Wdowik. The Nutrition Center is an outreach program of the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition.

In a way, the column has come full circle. Kendall believes strongly in the education and outreach mission of the Nutrition Center, supporting it with a leadership gift. The Kendall Anderson Nutrition Center, which works closely with Extension, brings to life the latest in nutrition research, providing exceptional nutrition education to the public. They offer programs ranging from cooking classes, to individual nutrition counseling, to weight management programs. The nutrition column is another way for the nutrition center to disseminate important nutrition information to the public.

Wdowik will continue writing the monthly column for distribution across the state. “I am excited to draw on the wide range of personal stories I hear in my work as a dietitian and an assistant professor. I think the public is overwhelmed with nutrition information, and not all of it is accurate. I hope to help people separate fact from fiction on timely nutrition topics,” she said.

So is chocolate really good for you? Well, yes and no. Perryman wrote in her annual Valentine’s Day column devoted to chocolate that several study reviews concluded eating dark chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease, but that doesn’t mean you can substitute chocolate for exercise and other healthy lifestyle factors. So stay tuned for more nutrition advice to come from the monthly nutrition column!

Read Wdowik's first nutrition column.

Contact: Gretchen Gerding
Phone: (970) 491-5182