Inspiration Awaits at the HHS Learn and Lunch Series

Each month, take a Giant Leap in a mere 45-minutes to learn how researchers in Purdue University’s College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) improve lives in Indiana, from coast to coast, and around the globe. Munch on a complimentary boxed lunch, and learn how to improve your own wellbeing.

The monthly noon-time celebration of discovery called Learn and Lunch is an inspirational break from the workday during Purdue University’s 150th year. From dumping diet drinks to combating obesity, and a lecture by the new HHS dean on the perils of teen digital communication, this series brings the Purdue and global community together to learn how HHS researchers work to enhance human health and wellbeing across the lifespan.

Can’t be there? Presentations will be livestreamed via Facebook and also recorded and posted to YouTube.

The Learn and Lunch 45-minute presentations are open to the public, yet require advanced registration for the complimentary boxed lunch.

Here’s the lineup for a better you and a better world:


Time to Dump Your Diet Drinks? Some Not-so-Sweet Effects of Sweeteners

Susan E. Swithers, Professor, Department of Psychological Sciences

Thursday, October 18, 2018. Register by October 12, 2018

Learn why omitting diet drinks from a meal plan are a small step to a better life.

Think drinking diet soda helps to keep your weight down? Hear the not-so-sweet truth about artificial sweeteners. Professor Susan E. Swithers will present the latest research on how consuming even one diet soda per day can be connected to higher likelihood of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure, in addition to contributing to weight gain.

Swithers studies ingestive behavior and body weight, specifically the roles that artificial sweeteners and other food substitutes play in weight management and eating. Her research investigates whether consuming high-intensity sweeteners, despite their zero or low calories, may result in overeating, weight gain or other health problems.

“Public health officials are rightfully concerned about the consequences of consuming sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks,” Swithers says. “But these warnings may need to be expanded to advocate limiting the intake of all sweeteners, including no-calorie sweeteners and so-called diet soft drinks. Although it seems like common sense that diet sodas would not be problematic, that does not appear to be the case.”


A Community-based Approach to Combat Indiana’s High Obesity Rate

Tim Gavin, Professor and Head, Department of Health and Kinesiology

Angela Abbott, Assistant Dean and Associate Director, Health and Human Sciences Extension

Friday, November 16, 2018.  Register by November, 12, 2018.

Learn how HHS is a thought leader in discovering solutions to adult obesity in Indiana.

Purdue’s Department of Health and Kinesiology and HHS Extension are forging footprints to address the issue of adulty obesity in Indiana.

In 2016, Tim Gavin, professor and head of the Department of Health and Kinesiology, received a two-year, $1.5 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC funded Purdue in part due to the University’s historically life-enhancing extension offices located in each Indiana county which provide avenues to educate citizens throughout the state on proper nutrition.

Gavin along with HHS Extension staff have focused efforts on two Indiana counties with over 40% adult obesity rates and a combined population of approximately 90,000 residents. The goal of the grant is to identify communities that need better access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity.

Angela Abbott, a registered dietitian, has helped design numerous programs to educate Indiana citizens about the importance of proper nutrition. She is currently involved with two multistate U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded teams working on prevention of childhood obesity and the improved access to affordable, nutritious food in rural communities.


Sleep in Individuals with Autism and their Families

AJ Schwichtenberg, Assist. Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Wednesday, December 5, 2018. Register by November 29, 2018.

Learn of the intersections of autism, family, treatment and sleep.

Sleep can be allusive or problematic for anyone, but for children on the autism spectrum, sleep, or the lack thereof, may contribute to developmental risks.

  1. J. Schwichtenberg is an interdisciplinary researcher with appointments in Human Development and Family Studies, Psychological Sciences, and Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She wears two hats, one as a pediatric sleep researcher, and one as a scientist interested in developmental trajectories in autism.

“The majority of children who are on the autism spectrum also have sleep problems,” Schwichtenberg says. “And those sleep problems can influence their development.”

Schwichtenberg also investigates the development of children at risk in general, not just autism, such as children who were born pre-term or who have older siblings with other

developmental delays.

In this Learn and Lunch presentation, Schwichtenberg will highlight recent studies from her Developmental Studies Laboratory, which assess: (1) roles of sleep during early behavioral treatment, (2) sleep in families raising children with ASD, and (3) sleep’s contributions to autism risk.


Teens, Digital Communication and the Perils of Lurking Online

Marion Underwood, Professor and Dean, College of Health and Human Science

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 Register by January 9, 2019

Learn how lurking online leads to sadness and painful social exclusion in vulnerable youth.

A teenage girl reclines on the grass under a tall oak looking up at the clouds and lost in thought. Daydreaming is one important, delicate aspect of life youth may forego when they “lurk” (slang for reading social media without posting) on social media.

“What all youth lose when they spend hours lurking online is time to think, daydream, problem solve, read, converse with others, do homework, enjoy the beauty of nature or engage in physical activity,” Dean Marion Underwood says. “For others, the price is far greater.”

Underwood is one of the foremost researchers in social aggression and how adolescents’ digital communication relates to adjustment. Her work appears in numerous scientific journals. The National Institutes of Health has supported her research since 1995. Underwood authored the book, Social Aggression among Girls, and in 2015, she was featured in the CNN special report “#Being13: Inside the Secret World of Teens.”

“Constantly lurking online generates stress and sadness for vulnerable youth because it exposes them to the pain of social exclusion, feeling like everyone else is having a wonderful time and a perfect life,” Underwood says.

Underwood discovered that most online conflicts among teens occur with friends and that “lurking” is associated with psychological distress.

In this Learn and Lunch presentation to start the new year, Underwood will discuss highlights from the longitudinal study she and her research group have conducted since 2003 on the origins and outcomes of social aggression and how adolescents use digital communication.


A Lifestyle for the Ages

Regan Bailey, Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition Science

Libby Richards, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing

Wednesday, February 13, 2019. Register by February 2, 2019.

Learn how to start now to stay sharp in your golden years.

Only one out of every four 65-year-olds today will live past the age of 90. While some cognitive changes are normal through aging, with the right lifestyle, cognitive decline related to aging can be minimized and sometimes even prevented.

The overarching goal of Regan Bailey’s research program is to prevent or lessen the risk of chronic disease through nutrition. In the Baily lab research centers on how dietary exposure relates to human health across the lifespan.

Libby Richards’ research focuses on population-based physical activity promotion. Richards is a faculty associate for Purdue’s Center for Aging and the Life Course and a faculty partner for Purdue’s Center for Families.

In this Learn and Lunch presentation in the heart of February, Bailey and Richards will help you discover how to change your habits to potentially foster enduring intellectual health.


How to Avoid Pushy Salespeople on Your Next Vacation

Annmarie Nicely, Associate Professor, School of Hospitality and Tourism Management

Friday, March 8, 2019. Register by March 4, 2019.

Learn how to protect yourself from pesky vendors while on vacation.

Do you suffer from “visitor harassment?”

When you head to a tropical island, take a cruise, or travel to a large city, visitor harassment can happen to you. As you stroll the beach, explore the local markets, partake in a port excursion, or even just walk down the street, chances are good you will encounter one or more pushy sales people. From taxi-drivers to street performers, unwanted attention from “micro-traders” can add stress to your vacation.

Annmarie Nicely, a leading researcher in the field of visitor harassment, has identified 35 known behaviors used by “micro-traders” such as taxi drivers, craft vendors, street-side chefs, local tour guides and street performers, to market their products, services or entertainment.

“What appears to be a minor inconvenience has become a significant drag on vacation destinations, which rely on tourism for an economic boost,” Nicely says. “I am interested in exploring how visitors can still have a positive vacation experience when visiting destinations that are prone to visitor harassment. I look at visitor harassment from the standpoint of the visitor as well as from the traders, tourism officials and the community.”

Attend this Learn and Lunch and hear how to avoid or lessen the impact of pushy sales people so that your next trip is the relaxing respite it is intended to be.

Plan now to attend Learn and Lunch each month to witness how HHS researchers are answering the Boilermaker calling to better the world by taking GIANT LEAPS.

Connect with HHS via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, so you don’t miss a single stride.

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