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Dr. Jill Joyce and Dr. Stephen Clarke work on their Health Headlines: Unpeeled podcast.

Health Headlines: Unpeeled

Thursday, November 4, 2021

Media Contact: Rachel Eng | Marketing and Communications Manager | 405-744-8320 |

Fad diets, health trends, wellness tips and more — these hot topics are addressed in headlines everywhere, every day. But are they too good to be true? What’s fact and what’s fiction? Today’s health solution can lead to tomorrow’s confusion as contradictory and ever-changing information swirls on social media and news outlets. Faculty and graduate students in the Department of Nutritional Sciences of Oklahoma State University’s College of Education and Human Sciences are working to combat this through Health Headlines: Unpeeled, a podcast tackling some of nutrition’s tastiest topics.

“I can’t slow down or control the overwhelming nature of today’s information world, so I came up with a different solution: Join them and be a voice of clarity and effective translation of science into user-friendly messages,” said Dr. Jill Joyce, assistant professor of nutritional sciences and the podcast’s co-host.

Her daily calls home to her mom, who is also a scientist and loves discussing the latest health headlines, prompted Joyce to launch the podcast. The two often discuss what’s logical and what’s probably exaggerated.

“We have this conversation at least every other day,” Joyce said. “Nutrition is always on TV, social media and news websites. It can be very overwhelming for people, and not everyone has the media-savvy mind that my mom has. The spark started there.”

“Our ‘why’ is to empower others to make informed nutrition and health decisions so that they can lead a satisfying and productive life. We believe strongly in the power of nutrition to change and improve lives.”

Stephen Clarke, Nutritional Sciences Department Head

“We are actively engaged in educating our listeners so that they have a better understanding of the role that nutrition plays in promoting optimal health and reducing chronic disease risk,” Clarke said. “Our ‘why’ is to empower others to make informed nutrition and health decisions so that they can lead a satisfying and productive life. We believe strongly in the power of nutrition to change and improve lives.”

The podcast, which began over the summer, now includes nearly 10 episodes addressing recent health-related claims. Joined by special guests, including nutritional sciences graduate students, Joyce and Clarke discuss a range of topics, including whether or not obesity is more deadly than smoking, if protein bolsters recovery from COVID-19, if childhood diets have a lasting impact and if specific eating habits raise the risk of death.

“We take nutrition headlines that our family, friends, students and colleagues share with us and break them down, teach health information and critical thinking, and leave listeners with an evidence-based, actionable message to take home,” Joyce said.

Graduate student involvement, both in front of the mic and behind the scenes, has been key to the success of the project. Several podcast episodes have featured OSU dietetic research master’s students who are completing their internship to become registered dietitians. They’ve joined the discussion, helping to debunk exaggerated headline claims by comparing them with the actual research studies referenced and checking for accuracy.

“I think this podcast makes it easier to understand the information out there and where it comes from so that you, as the reader or listener, can come to your own conclusion,” said Kennedy Robinson, dietetic research master’s student. “Now, I know where to find information, how it can be applied in the real world and that I’m fully capable of having these conversations.”

Participating in the podcast has also given Robinson and others important real-world experience that will benefit them in their future careers.

“My favorite part of this project is being able to digest scientific findings and present them in a way that’s understandable to a lay audience,” said Katherine Bode, dietetic research master’s student. “It’s really important for me to learn to communicate in a way that my future patients and clients will understand.”

The mentoring opportunity the podcast provides reflects the program’s mission to develop poised professionals.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to see how the communication skills of our students have progressed in just a few episodes,” Clarke said. “They exhibit more confidence and are more relaxed in just being who they are and communicating the science behind the headlines.”

And all involved really want the podcast’s vital messages to resonate with listeners.

“I hope this podcast changes some worlds, through sound nutrition and health messages, and that our passion for it is contagious,” Joyce said.

Story By: Rachel Eng and Katie Lacey | ASPIRE Magazine

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