Societal inequities are such strong drivers of health disparities in our country, and the inequity in people’s access to food, and specifically nutritious food options, is no exception.
Worldwide and in our local communities, entire groups of people are undernourished and grow up with nutritional deficiencies, setting them up for poorer health outcomes throughout their lives.
That realization is behind a good deal of our school’s scholarship and education in the area of nutrition. Much of our research and curricula comes back to the underlying understanding that nutrition is a vitally important factor in achieving optimal health. It isn’t everything, but it is an essential part of our lives and affects our health throughout the life course.
In this issue of Health Impact, you will get a look at the work we are doing across our school on nutrition along the research continuum—from basic science to community interventions. This focus arose from the foundational work of our faculty in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences and from the study of the nutritional epidemiology of cancer by Dr. Saxon Graham, the late professor emeritus of our Social and Preventive Medicine Department (now Epidemiology and Environmental Health). The growth in our research and educational programs focusing on nutrition now includes virtually every department in our school. We also reach across many university programs and collaborate with colleagues in other health science schools like medicine, dentistry and nursing, in urban planning, and more.
One idea that spans nearly all of our work is that nutrition is, indeed, medicine. Nutritional interventions are an increasing part of disease prevention and therapies for many chronic conditions. Nutrition coupled with physical activity play a role in survivorship in those affected by cancer and in many, many other diseases. The promise of the work we’re doing today is that nutrition will continue to be recognized as a key strategy to prevent disease and maintain health. Our work importantly also focuses on access, a cornerstone of health equity that needs to be addressed. I hope you will enjoy learning more about the important work the school is doing in nutrition.
Enjoy the arrival of spring,
Jean Wactawski-Wende, PhD
Dean, UB School of Public Health and Health Professions
SUNY Distinguished Professor