Global Health Education at Rutgers: In this new content series, Rutgers Global Health Institute explores global health coursework offered throughout Rutgers.

Course Title
Global and Public Health Nutrition

Course Number
NUTR 5513E 00W (School of Health Professions, entry-level M.S. in clinical nutrition program)
NUTR 5513J WEB 77342 (School of Public Health, graduate elective)

Joachim Sackey, PhD (course director)
Assistant Professor
Department of Clinical and Preventive Nutrition Sciences
School of Health Professions

Minna Sabbahi, RDN, MPH
Department of Clinical and Preventive Nutrition Sciences

Jessie Sullivan, MS, RD, CLC
Department of Clinical and Preventive Nutrition Sciences

Course Description
Current and emerging issues in global and public health nutrition are debated and students are engaged in discussions to address populations of diverse cultures and global nutrition health and nutrition policy. Students learn to recognize how determinants of health, health disparities, and availability and accessibility of resources influence the nutrition status of communities and state, country, and regional programs. Program planning and population needs assessments are addressed. Course topics include an overview of global and U.S. public health nutrition goals, malnutrition around the globe, nutrition surveillance systems and interventions, practices and processes of local and global food markets, global food systems, and legislative and regulatory policies. (Source: Global and Public Health Nutrition – Summer 2019 Syllabus) 

Q&A with Prof. Sackey

As part of a class assignment, your students are writing advocacy letters to legislators about food and nutrition policy and regulatory matters. What topics are they are focusing on?
Advocacy is an avenue for students to turn their passion for public health nutrition into something real—it’s a grassroots way of cultivating support from elected officials, which can lead to policy changes.

Some of the topics our students are concerned about include the proposed Healthy Food Access for All Americans Act, efforts to ensure private breastfeeding space in New Jersey, school lunch disparities in Rhode Island, and recommendations to amend the federal Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) to better address the obesity epidemic.

How does your course encourage dialogue from different perspectives?
In our online discussions, the instructors and I serve as moderators, prompting our students to consider all the variables. When reviewing the advocacy topics, for example, we brought up how some of the proposals would cost taxpayers money and whether the policies would be feasible after taking into account other urgent issues facing state and local government authorities.

We also discussed how some good policy proposals—for example, limiting SNAP to healthy options only—could lead to people getting less food all together, since most healthy foods are expensive. This could have consequences for the underserved populations this policy change is meant to help.

Will you have any guest speakers this summer?
In July, Pamela Rothpletz-Puglia, a registered dietitian and associate professor in our department, will lecture on food-based dietary guidelines and discuss a Cochrane review she co-authored, titled “Effectiveness of provision of animal-source foods for supporting optimal growth and development in children 6 to 59 months of age.”

What career opportunities exist for clinical nutrition students interested in issues of health equity and access?
Career paths include working with global nonprofit organizations, such as Save the Children, World Vision, CARE, Hellen Keller International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and FHI 360. There are also many opportunities to serve vulnerable populations throughout the United States. For example, students might aspire to work for local and state public health offices or federal bodies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institutes of Health, and nonprofits working in public health and nutrition.