Welcome from the Chair

Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, FACP, FTOS Professor and Chair

Diet is so intimately woven into the fabric of our lives that the food choices we make are often almost unconscious.  Yet, these choices can have a profound impact on our health, and even the quality of our lives.  Food choices are not usually made after evaluating their nutrient and health attributes; typically, most of us make food choices under the influence of an array of other factors, including culture, cost, availability, taste, religion, aesthetics, processing, and social influences..

One of the important goals of nutrition education is thus to make our choices informed choices, rather than basing them on habitual behaviors or what others around us are doing at the moment. 

The diversity of George Mason’s student body presents us with a wide range of dietary backgrounds, as well as a wide range of habits.  One of the habits that may be difficult to change when changing environments (like moving to the US from abroad, or even becoming a freshman living in a dormitory) is  our eating pattern and specific food choices and portions.  

Thus, to improve healthy eating choices among individuals, communities, and populations, it is critical to first understand the complexities influencing food choice and consumption.

The Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University is well-prepared to take on such complex nutrition-related challenges. We have a multidisciplinary team of faculty who come from a variety of backgrounds, including biochemistry, food science, food systems, public health, medicine, anthropology, epidemiology, the culinary arts, and clinical nutrition. Our faculty collaborate with disciplines such as computer science, education, nursing, social work, and political science to explore the causes and develop relevant means of intervening to improve nutrition and health in individuals, communities, and populations. Our diverse group brings together a complementary set of skills, backgrounds, and research interests to provide enriching and exciting educational experiences for our students.

As an undergraduate, you can choose a minor in Nutrition, designed to help prepare you for further work at the graduate level, or simply to give you the knowledge and experience to make better food choices for the rest of your life.

Our MS in nutrition—the only one of its kind in Virginia—combines nutrition sciences with an understanding of food, food systems, foodways, and the culinary arts to prepare our students to tackle the most pressing nutrition issues. Our academic programs train students to engage in nutrition and food-related planning, practice, and research. Our courses are designed to provide an enriched learning experience by utilizing a diverse mix of strategies—whether it is in understanding the science that informs food and nutrition-related recommendations, in food preparation activities, or in supporting nutrition-related behavior and policy changes.

We encourage you learn more about our different programs, degrees, and certificates at the undergraduate and graduate level by attending one of our information sessions or reading about us through our website.

I hope that you are inspired to join us as we tackle some of the most complex diet and health-related challenges here in Virginia and globally. We look forward to you visiting us soon!

Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, FACP, FTOS
Professor and Chair
Department of Nutrition and Food Studies
George Mason University| College of Public Health