Food, Ingestive Behavior, and Population Nutrition

The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 30% of the world’s population is malnourished.  This includes individuals with deficiencies of energy, vitamins and/or minerals as well as those with overweight or obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases. The etiologies are multiple and complex, but a high proportion relates to access to foods and ingestive behaviors (e.g., food choice, eating patterns, portion size). 

To understand and manage these problems it is essential to consider the continuum from food production, harvesting, storage, processing, and safety to distribution, commercial and personal preparation, as well as the environmental and biological determinants of ingestion through to public health practices and policy. 

Contributors in the Department


Faculty in this signature area seek new, fundamental insights on the determinants and consequences of food choice, but are also are committed to the translation of such knowledge to local, national and global populations.  They work in close partnership with clinicians, policy makers and community organizers to ensure best practices for health promotion are conveyed, understood, acted upon and evaluated.

Engagement takes many forms.  Faculty and students initiate and participate in research and educational activities, publish data and insights in peer-reviewed and lay publications, speak at local, national and international professional and lay meetings, offer trainings to relevant audiences and consult with governmental, industry and community groups.  Many interactions are planned regular events while others are initiated as needs arise.  At the same time, community groups and other stakeholders seek out and work with faculty and students to address existing and anticipated food and nutrition issues,


Learning opportunities in this area are broad and deep.  These concepts of food selection, regulation, policies, access, quality, and composition are key components of both the undergraduate and graduate curriculum of the department. Many of the faculty lead or participate in the courses that comprise the curriculum of the Ingestive Behavior Research Center.  Examples are courses on Human Feeding, Human Sensory Systems and Food Evaluation, as well as Obesity, Behavior, Physiology and Policy.  Additionally, faculty in the area are also involved with many of the courses supporting the Public Health Graduate Program.  Examples here include Nutritional Epidemiology, Current topics in Food Science, and World Food Problems.   

Department of Nutrition Science, 700 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059 (765) 494-8228, Fax: (765) 494-0674

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