Purdue University Department of Nutrition Science

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The Purdue University Department of Nutrition Science within the College of Health and Human Services at Purdue University offers both undergraduate and graduate education in the field of Nutrition Science. The department's five signature areas are: Bone, Calcium, and Vitamin D; Botanicals; Child nutrition; Diet, Energy Balance, and Fitness; and Cancer Prevention.[1] The Department is headed by Connie M. Weaver.[2] Under her leadership, the department has increased its funding dramatically, but perhaps at the expense of its independence and academic integrity: the department raises thousands of dollars each year from corporations who sign on as Corporate Affiliates (see below).

Academic Program

The undergraduate program offers concentrations in Dietetics; Foods and Nutrition in Business; Nutrition, Fitness, and Health; and Nutrition Science and minors in Nutrition Science and Nutrition.[3] Graduate students choose one of the following Emphasis Groups: Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition; Human and Clinical Nutrition; Animal Health, Growth and Development; Public Health and Education; and Foods.[4]

Corporate Influence

The department raises quite a bit of money from corporations that profit by selling unhealthy foods, thus jeopardizing the department's independence in teaching, studying, and publishing about nutrition.

Diet, Energy Balance, and Fitness

One sign of the lack of independence is the school's focus area on "Diet, Energy Balance, and Fitness." As public health expert Michele Simon points out, while fitness is an important aspect of staying healthy, so are avoiding smoking and getting enough sleep. But none of those have anything to do with nutrition. Shifting the focus from diet to fitness is a common corporate strategy for avoiding any criticism for selling unhealthy foods that lead to chronic, diet-related illness. Energy balance is a commonly-cited theme in which food manufacturers insist that the foods eaten are unimportant so long as a person balances the calories taken in with the calories expended via exercise and other activity. Not surprisingly, this area of the department is funded by a number of advocates for industrial agriculture that also routinely oppose nutrition advice that advises consumers to decrease consumption of animal products. These include: the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, American Egg Board, and Dairy Management, Inc..[5]

Bone Health

The Bone Health focus area is in part funded by Dairy Management, Inc.. While some nutrition experts note that calcium is abundant in foods other than dairy (and as the United States becomes increasingly multiracial, it's important to note that people who are not of European descent are often lactose intolerant as adults), the department's Bone Health area focuses much of its research on promoting dairy. For example, current research includes "Reversing milk aversion," "Role of dairy products in weight loss: a multi-center trial; the bone side," and "Effects of milk components on calcium absorption."[6]

Corporate Affiliates

The following corporate affiliates pay a minimum of $6000 each year to the department:[7]

Additionally, IFIC receives a courtesy membership. For their membership, corporate affiliates receive:[8]

  • Corporate visibility with students and faculty (emphasis added)
  • Source of employable graduates
  • Pre-prints/publications
  • Research/education partners
  • Large public outreach networks (Extension)
  • Training workshops
  • Staff development
  • Academic perspective on emerging issues
  • Commitment by faculty and administration to address members' needs (emphasis added)
  • Semi-annual symposium on topical issues
  • Extend your staff

Executive in the Classroom

Through the "Executive in the Classroom" program, each fall semester, eight to ten industry representatives appear as speakers in an undergraduate course. "Executives discuss their education and career paths, profile their companies, and outline industry issues such as production, regulation, research and development, food safety, nutrition, and consumer healthcare."[9]

Past Presenters include representatives from the following companies:

Sara Lee Innovation Award

Each year, Sara Lee Food and Beverage sponsors an award for a Purdue University student team that "develops an innovative new product for potential use by the company." The top prize is $10,000.[10]

Contact Information

  • Department of Nutrition Science Administration
  • Stone Hall, Room 213

  • 700 W. State Street

  • West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059
  • Ph: (765) 494-8228

  • Fax: (765) 494-0674
  • E-mail: fandn@purdue.edu
  • Web: http://www.cfs.purdue.edu/fn/

Resources and Articles

Related SourceWatch Articles


  1. About, Accessed September 20, 2011.
  2. Connie Weaver, Accessed September 20, 2011.
  3. Undergraduate, Accessed September 20, 2011.
  4. Graduate, Accessed September 20, 2011.
  5. Diet, Energy Balance, and Fitness, Accessed September 20, 2011.
  6. Bone Health, Accessed September 20, 2011.
  7. [Corporate Affiliate Members], Accessed September 20, 2011.
  8. [http://www.cfs.purdue.edu/fn/outreach/corporate_affiliates/corp_affiliates.html Corporate Affiliates, Accessed September 20, 2011.
  9. Executive in the Classroom, Accessed September 20, 2011.
  10. Sara Lee Innovation Award, Accessed September 20, 2011.

External Resources

External Articles