OU-Tulsa Culinary Medicine Program Spotlighted for National Public Health Week

OU-Tulsa Culinary Medicine Program Spotlighted for National Public Health Week

Published: Monday, April 1, 2019

This week, the Culinary Medicine program at the University of Oklahoma’s Tulsa campus will be in the spotlight for National Public Health Week.

This Is Public Health Roadshow, a program of the Association of Schools and Programs of Public Health, will be in Tulsa Thursday, April 4, to spotlight the Culinary Medicine program, a joint initiative between the OU Hudson College of Public Health and the OU-TU School of Community Medicine.

OU-Tulsa faculty members Lori Whelan, M.D., and Marianna Wetherill, Ph.D., MPH, and Chef Valarie Carter (an OU-Tulsa Master’s of Public Health student) are leading the program.
Healthcare professionals and students from OU-Tulsa will join the “This is Public Health” team at the Gathering Place for a program from 10 to 11 a.m. in the ONEOK Boathouse. The event will begin with Culinary Medicine story time, read by OU-Tulsa President John Schumann, M.D., and the first 50 families will receive a free copy of the book “Green Beans, Potatoes, and Even Tomatoes.” The team will answer parents’ nutrition questions and provide tips on getting children involved in the kitchen. OU-Tulsa medical students will then host interactive fruit and vegetable “teach and taste” stations.

The activities are part of the mission of OU-Tulsa’s Culinary Medicine program, which aims to improve the health of local communities through the power of food.

“The future of our healthcare system – and the health of our population – requires that the disciplines of public health work together with clinical medicine in a coordinated way,” said Gary E. Raskob, Ph.D., dean of the OU Hudson College of Public Health. “The medical care a person receives is crucial and lifesaving, but about 40 percent of our total health outcome is determined by our behavior, including the food that we eat.”

The aim of the Culinary Medicine program is to improve health by teaching medical students, residents, physicians and patients cooking skills for making healthy, affordable meals. Food choices are an essential component of self-care for the prevention and treatment of chronic conditions, yet physicians traditionally have not been adequately trained on how food can be used for their own care and the care of their patients.

One of the more recent initiatives is a culinary medicine curriculum for medical and PA students in the School of Community Medicine. Through hands-on cooking experiences, students learn how to teach nutrition self-care for a variety of conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, cancer, weight management and mental health.

“This is a translational project that gets students out of textbooks and into the kitchen,” said Wetherill. “Students not only learn the fundamentals of nutrition therapy for many common medical conditions, but also how these scientific concepts can be practically applied to make healthy eating recommendations.”