From left, student Ashley Peck, Springfield College Center for Wellness Education and Research Director Richard Wood, Nicole Avena, and students Hayden Riley, Emily Miele, and Dean Marino.
The Springfield College Center for Wellness Education and Research (CWER) hosted world-renowned neuroscientist and nutrition and diet expert Nicole Avena on Thursday, Nov. 19, in the Fuller Arts Center. Avena’s presentation, “Why Diets Fail: Because You're Addicted to Sugar,” focused on years of research that reveals definitive proof that sugar is addictive and presents a science-based plan to stop cravings.
An author of more than 50 scholarly journal articles, Avena’s research suggests that overeating of palatable foods can produce changes in the brain and behavior that resemble addiction, findings that have jump-started an entire new field of exploration and discovery related to the obesity epidemic. Avena has presented her research to an array of audiences, including pharmaceutical companies, diabetes prevention groups, food industry marketing executives, nutrition groups, and obesity education groups.
"Our food supply has changed so drastically in the last two decades, and one of the biggest changes is the amount of sugar in our diet,” said CWER Director Richard J. Wood. “Along with other leading scientists, Dr. Avena has helped us understand that sugar has powerful addictive effects. Given that sugar is hidden in so many of the things we eat every day, it is no wonder people have such a difficult time maintaining a healthy weight and metabolism. Dr. Avena's work is critically important to the health of our nation, and we are very proud to welcome her to Springfield College in November."
As an internationally renowned expert, Avena has contributed to articles in Men’s Health, Psychology Today, Bloomberg Businessweek, and WebMD.com. She also has lent her expertise to the recent discussion on New York City’s ban on large sodas. The New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse have honored Avena’s research achievements.
Avena earned a PhD in neuroscience and psychology from Princeton University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in molecular biology at The Rockefeller University in New York City.
Housed in the Springfield College School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the mission of the CWER is to serve as the preeminent source for best practices in nutrition and physical activity programing for youth.
Founded in 1885, Springfield College is known worldwide for the guiding principles of its Humanics philosophy—educating students in spirit, mind and body for leadership in service to others. With its foundation of academic excellence and rich athletic heritage, Springfield College prepares students with real-world leadership skills for careers that transform lives and communities. The college offers a range of undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of health sciences, human and social services, sport management and movement studies, education, business, and the arts and sciences. It also offers doctoral programs in physical education, physical therapy, and counseling psychology. The college is ranked in the 2016 edition of “Best Colleges” in the top tier of “Best Regional Universities – North Region” by U.S.News & World Report, and is designated as a premier Leadership Development Center by the YMCA of the USA. More than 5,000 traditional, nontraditional and international students study at its main campus in Springfield, Mass., and at its School of Professional and Continuing Studies across the country.