Johnson & Wales, Tulane University Unite Chefs and Doctors for Total Health Curriculum

Johnson & Wales University announced yesterday a long-term collaboration with the Tulane University School of Medicine to improve the nation's health through the unity of chefs and doctors in a culinary health curriculum.

This may be the first time a leading medical and culinary institution have combined forces to battle the poor health and poor eating habits of millions of Americans. It's like a match made in heaven...or maybe a cupboard.

The plan is to create a curriculum for doctors, medical students, chefs, and the community that focuses on nutrition and emphasizes how diet impacts health.

Chefs don't just prep and cook food, they often study the science of healthy eating; and they will be showing medical students and doctors how it's done. With this program, a holistic approach to medical science is becoming more mainstream.

The curriculum is also meant to highlight the link between bad food choices and obesity, diabetes and other illnesses.

Right now statistics show that 35.7 percent of Americans are overweight, according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the rate is rising fast. "Obesity is the single greatest threat to our way of life in America today and doctors and chefs are on the front lines every day," says Dr. Timothy Harlan, executive director of the Tulane University Center for Culinary Medicine. "By helping doctors understand food and nutrition while informing chefs of diet and the disease process we can have a profound effect on the course of many diseases."

According to another report published on May 7 by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, even if the rate levels off, 42 percent of Americans will be obese, with 11 percent severely obese.

The initial program starts in the fall and will be based at Tulane University in New Orleans, with long-term goal of having it at Johnson and Wales' flagship university in Providence, Rhode Island, then at JWU's other universities which include a location in North Miami. The details as to when the program will eventually reach Miami's campus are currently being worked out, but will emerge within the year as the program develops, says Harlan. 

The curriculum will include seminars, internships, faculty training, research, community outreach, and will be part of the rotation of Tulane medical students. A master's degree in culinary nutrition will also be available at JWU.

Tulane has been hosting Providence JWU students since the Spring semester, primarily from the Culinary Nutrition program. Future plans call for medical students to attend labs and classes at JWU as part of their fourth year electives.

As the project grows, the goal is to have at least 10 classes per week by the end of the academic year, with 16 students per class.

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