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Managing chronic conditions with healthful diets topic of class presentation

This fall, human nutrition and foods students at West Virginia University immersed themselves in the world of medical nutrition therapy – and how nutrition can be used to manage and reduce chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes.

Eager to share what they learned, the students will present "Healthy Dietary Patterns to Combat West Virginia Health Disparities" at 5:30 p.m. Thurs., Nov. 30, in G06 Agricultural Sciences Building.

The talk show-style presentation will feature in-depth discussions about science-based dietary patterns often recommended for those with chronic conditions like Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia and metabolic syndrome. The event will also feature cooking demonstrations and food tastings.

The class was divided into teams and each will compare and contrast a different dietary pattern, discuss how it is beneficial and provide tips on how to implement it into everyday life. When planning the presentations, students considered cost of and access to healthful foods, West Virginia culture, and the time required to prepare meals.


The featured dietary patterns to be discussed include:

  • USDA's Healthy Mediterranean Style
  • American Heart Association's Heart Healthy Eating Pattern
  • American Diabetes Association and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Choose Your Foods
  • National Institutes of Health Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension (DASH)

"Designing this talk show presentation was a great way to get the students engaged in learning and to apply the content they learned throughout the semester," said Melissa Ventura-Marra, assistant professor of human nutrition and foods in the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design. "The event will be a fun and interactive way to understand healthful eating."

The presentation will serve as the final exam for Marra's medical nutrition therapy course. It is also supported by the WVU Honors College.

"Four students in the class elected to receive honors credit for the course and serve as team leaders," Marra said.

Kaitlyn Cantley, a senior human nutrition and foods major and a team leader, indicated many people don't realize how significantly a healthy dietary pattern can improve one's health.

"For those with chronic diseases, changing one's diet can be the difference between life and death," she said. "Even after being diagnosed with a chronic disease such as hypertension or Type 2 diabetes, keeping the condition under control, preventing complications and maintaining a high quality of life can still be attained through simple change of diet."

All of which she hopes will be conveyed during the presentation.

"Our goal is to debunk the belief that eating healthy entails buying a lot of expensive ingredients and investing an unreasonable amount of time preparing the food," Cantley said. "We hope that after the show, audience members will walk away not only knowing which eating patterns are scientifically proven to be effective but also easy and cost-effective ways to implement these diets into their everyday lives."

The event is free and open to the public; however, those who plan on attending are asked to RSVP online.