Academic Senate approves new graduate certificate for CSULB
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 00:10
Cal State Long Beach is trying to curb the increasing overweight and obese population among Latinos with a new graduate certificate in Latino health and nutrition studies.
During the Academic Senate meeting on Thursday, senators voted and approved the implementation of a new graduate certificate through an expedited course of action. Hank Fradella, a senator from the College of Health and Human Services, proposed to bypass the typical voting process that normally takes at least two senate meetings to complete.
“This is exactly what we should be doing on this campus,” Donald Para, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at CSULB, said at the meeting.
The new Latino health and nutrition studies (LHNS) certificate focuses on public health and nutrition while emphasizing a reduction to Latino childhood obesity, according to Britt Rios-Ellis, director of the National Council of La Raza chapter at CSULB.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, any adult with a Body Mass Index (BMI) between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight while any adult with a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. The statistics pertaining to Long Beach’s overweight and obese Latino population have warranted community leaders to create this plan of action.
According to the text of the certificate’s proposal, a majority of more than 50,000 Latinos in Long Beach, who live below the poverty level, are younger than 18 years old.
“The poorest people often consume the most unhealthy food,” Rios-Ellis said. “Kids are getting very fat, very fast.”
She said that in the U.S., immigrants tend to eat less healthily as they assimilate into the culture because portion sizes become a problem as people consider mass consumption to be a privilege.
To combat these eating habits, the certificate program is composed of three components: a university-based curriculum; a community-based center; and research, according to Rios-Ellis. The curriculum for the certificate consists six three-unit courses.
The community-based center will be located in Downtown Long Beach at 12th and Pine streets and is intended for community members to learn how to shop, eat and exercise effectively, according to Rios-Ellis.
All research involved in the program will be conducted in Spanish and then translated into English to better serve the needs of the Latino population, Rios-Ellis said.
CSULB graduate students in the LHNS certificate program will learn how to assist Latinos in the community through disparity research courses, chronic disease prevention courses and culturally responsive nutritional courses, among other classes associated with the certificate.
The United States Department of Agriculture is currently funding the graduate certificate and its components through a five-year $3.75 million grant. Once the grant expires, Rios-Ellis said she thinks the program will continue being funded through private donors, additional grants and revenues obtained through student tuition.
Students are already enrolling in classes that will be credited toward the certificate. They will have the opportunity to apply for to the certificate in fall 2013.
Representatives and students from University of California, Irvine; University of California, Berkeley; and University of California, Los Angeles have also shown interest in the program, according to Rios-Ellis.
“We want to have an impact nationwide,” Rios-Ellis said.