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WWU to present 'In Defense of Scientific Eating: A Tale of Two Grandmas' at Bellingham's City Hall Feb. 17

Western Washington University Associate Professor of Biology Anu Singh-Cundy will present “In Defense of Scientific Eating: A Tale of Two Grandmas” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 17, at the Bellingham City Council chambers, second floor, Bellingham City Hall, 210 Lottie St.

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is offered as the second event of the annual Science and the univerCity community science lecture series. It is sponsored by the WWU College of Sciences and Technology, the City of Bellingham, and, along with the other CST outreach programs, "Wizards at Western" and the "Leaders in Their Fields," is sponsored in part by a grant from the Cherry Point BP refinery.

Information about health and nutrition leaps from the lab to the living room faster than most other types of scientific knowledge. Singh-Cundy will explain why nutritional information is sometimes contradictory and confusing and will show how to identify reliable and actionable evidence-based health advice. Biomedical information, from hormone replacement therapy to the effects of cell phone radiation on the brain, is often controversial in the early stages of discovery, and Singh-Cundy says we can no more turn our backs on what science tells us about prudent dietary and lifestyle choices than reject all medical advances.

Singh-Cundy compares the culinary customs and health outcomes of two grandmas from opposite ends of the globe to make a point about the limits of traditional knowledge in maximizing health and well-being in the modern age.

“Meta-analyses show that nutrients matter. Not getting enough dietary fiber, the right proportion of different types of fats, and optimal amounts of vitamin D, for example, lead to poorer health outcomes for many Americans,” Singh-Cundy said.

People with higher incomes and better education are less likely to develop chronic diseases, presumably because they have better access to evidence-based information and high quality food, rather than better access to wise grandmas.

“Billions of tax dollars are spent on preventive health research and the “priesthood” of experts should not be its sole beneficiaries,” Singh-Cundy said.

“We are pleased again this year to have the support of the City in our efforts to bring programs on important topics in science and technology to the Bellingham community. Furthermore, to have endorsement of our efforts, in the form of support for this series by the BP Corporation, is especially gratifying,” said Arlan Norman, dean of the College of Sciences and Technology. “This is a program for the community, a program that we hope really contributes to the general understanding of many important and exciting topics in today’s complex world of scientific and technological advances.”

The next entries in the "Science" series, "The X-Ray Vision of Mathematics: Seeing Inside Our Bodies and Our World," will be presented on Wednesday, May 12 by WWU Mathematics professor Stephen McDowall.

All of WWU’s Science and the univerCity lectures are also taped and rebroadcast on Bellingham BTV 10.

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Thursday, February 4, 2010 - 11:21am