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Online MPH Program to launch new concentration in Public Health Nutrition

Beginning in fall 2022, UC Berkeley School of Public Health Online MPH Program students will have a new concentration option: Public Health Nutrition.

“With the addition of the online MPH in Public Health Nutrition we are looking to attract a strong pool of students from around the world,” says Deborah Barnett, director of the Online Professional MPH program. “The ability of these students from all over California, the US, and the globe to be able to study public health nutrition in place and incorporate their learning directly into their communities and current jobs is a major step in making the study of public nutrition more readily available to public health professionals worldwide.”

The online MPH Public Health Nutrition concentration is designed for students with at least two years of work experience, such as physicians and nurses and mid-career qualified health professionals who wish to learn about the applications of nutritional health to policy.  It complements two already-existing in-person programs.

Students in the online MPH program can declare a nutrition concentration at any point during the program. Required courses will include Maternal and Child Health Nutrition—which covers  nutritional issues faced by infants, children, adolescents, and women of reproductive age in the United States, taught through the lens of  improving maternal child health nutrition practices—and other coursework that examines the relationship between the environment and public health and intersections between health and social behavior, as well as food and nutrition policy and courses designed to provide a strong grounding in planning and evaluating public health programs.

Patrick Traynor, a current online MPH student, anticipates the program will give him the opportunity to understand all facets of nutrition that relate to chronic illness and to dive deeper into the implications of health on nutrition policies.

Before deciding to pursue an MPH in nutrition, Traynor received an undergraduate degree in nutrition from UC Davis and became a registered dietitian before he received a PhD in educational administration from UC Riverside. He currently works as the Alpine County Superintendent of Schools and wants to pursue research on the food addiction spectrum and its relation to individual health and public health, and also learn more about the impacts of consuming animal products.

“I am very excited to learn more about how our food affects our neurological pathways,” he says.

His own background as a child with food addictions and as a bodybuilder in adulthood have both contributed to his interest in sustainable nutrition and healthy diet.

A shift towards a sustainable diet—both for the health of people and the planet—and the increasing recognition of our food systems as a major driver of diet-related diseases and climate change has driven interest in public health nutrition, along with new requirements from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that registered dietitians to have a master’s degree.

The  online Public Health Nutrition program is designed to provide students with the skills needed to develop a greater understanding of public nutrition challenges, design health food systems, and to identify and inform food policy, with an eye toward hands-on learning that will propel them into professional fields in nutritional sciences.