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Improving nutrition focus of MU seminar

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 11:03 PM

HUNTINGTON -- When Ethan Bergman, president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, boarded a plane for Huntington early Wednesday, he said he wondered if it was the same Huntington that Jamie Oliver visited two years ago.

He was encouraged that some things have changed during a hors d'oeuvres benefit and fundraiser hosted by Marshall University's Student Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics on Wednesday evening at Huntington's Kitchen, Oliver's previous base of operations.

Students majoring in the field had the opportunity to mingle with about 75 nutrition and dietetics professionals from throughout the state who are in town for a continuing education seminar hosted by the West Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said Tonya Davis, president of Marshall's student academy.

"It offers the opportunity for students to network and converse with current registered dietitians, which is a huge thing in learning to understand the profession," said Davis. "This is a wonderful opportunity to talk to people who can serve as mentors and guide us not only toward our personal goals, but for the nutritional goals for the whole state as well."

Presentations during the seminar run the gamut from how to reach clients through social media to ways to maintain muscle mass with aging.

The broad spectrum of topics goes hand-in-hand with the tasks registered dietitians face on a daily basis, said Bergman, who will be giving a presentation during the seminar Thursday.

"There is a wide range of different expertise that exists in this field from food service management to nutrition for better health during every life cycle and how to supplement when facing certain diseases," said Bergman. "What can happen at an event like this is that I might meet a person who focuses on school nutrition, and, when I return home, if I face some kind of challenge in looking at school nutrition, I can call that person, who I know is a professional, and get their input on that problem."

Getting back to the root of Bergman's familiarity with Huntington, while the city might have been known for its health problems in the past, he said events like this seminar serve to improve the health for the city and West Virginia as a whole.

He said he recently was part of a study that showed how much school meals have improved in recent years, noting that school meals frequently are healthier than meals that are packed at home.

"It's worth showing Huntington that the school meals are getting better," said Bergman. "People in Huntington and in West Virginia have the opportunity to show the world how their efforts have led to this kind of improvement."

Follow Lacie Pierson via Twitter @LaciePiersonHD.

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