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In Ancient Greek, the word diet (δίαιτα – diaita) meant “mode of life,” and it encompassed the various aspects of lifestyle: food and drink, physical exercises, baths and massage, sleep and sexual practice, and the general way of leading one’s life. While today diet and physical activity are separate fields of study, two professors are encouraging students to look at the relationship between these areas in affecting health and being. 

“My background is in exercise science, and professor Baum’s background is in food science and nutrition, but you can't have one without the other,” notes Erin Howie Hickey, an associate professor of exercise science. Hickey and Jamie Baum, associate professor of nutrition and the director of the Center for Human Nutrition, are joining forces to disseminate nutrition and physical activity information. 

By connecting their fields of study, Baum and Hickey hope to improve the broader public’s understanding of the importance of nutrition and physical activity and to differentiate the science facts from fiction.  

“There's really a lack of knowledge about nutrition literacy, physical activity literacy, health literacy,” said Baum, who noticed in her classes that social media and other news often provided students with misinformation. “We want to offer a class to students to give them a baseline level of knowledge.” 

Baum and Hickey will present a lecture titled “Good Medicine” at 5:15 p.m. Monday, March 13, in Gearhart Hall Auditorium (GEAR 26). All on campus and in the community are invited to the lecture, which will explore the relationship between nutrition and physical activity.   

Their lecture will preview the Fall 2023 Honors College Signature Seminar, Good Medicine. Please fill out this online interest form before the lecture.    

Baum and Hickey find that misinformation around health topics results from specific dieting and exercise trends being heralded as universal advice.  
“There's not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to diet and nutrition,” Baum emphasizes. “I call nutrition an n=1 science because the attitude sometimes is that because something worked for me I'm going to advocate for it, that it must work for you.”  
Both professors also hope more health professionals recognize the barriers many people face meeting various wellness standards, where factors such as financial resources, physical landscape and time all pose challenges. Hickey’s own experience has helped her recognize the challenges of accessing health services in rural areas.  
“I live out in the country where there are just dirt roads, and there's this pack of wild dogs that lives next door,” pointing out the challenges these pose to activities like walking or running. “I've had to be very strategic in how I get my own physical activity.” 


The holistic focus for Good Medicine comes out of the professors’ observation that many health professionals receive limited nutrition or physical activity information outside their field of study. 
“Most of my undergrad exercise science students are going on to med school, PT school, PA school, and they take one nutrition class throughout their degree,” Hickey notes. “I would say their level of nutrition knowledge overall is still pretty limited when they go on to be practicing clinicians.” The professors hope the class provides all students with whole health information to fill in these knowledge gaps.  
Baum and Hickey’s course also aims to expand health literacy throughout the state. Good Medicine will partner with the Division of Agriculture’s Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service– which offers free classes, training and resources on farming and health-related topics statewide–to spread the course’s information to different communities in Arkansas. 
“Our students will develop a project that would meet the health, physical activity or nutrition need of a county, as well as help them understand the barriers to getting proper health messaging out there,” explained Baum. The class will pair groups with Extension Agents in Arkansas to collect health information and share findings with the local community. 


Jamie Baum is the Director for the Center for Human Nutrition within University System Division of Agriculture and is an Associate Professor in the Department of Food Science. Baum has worked at the University of Arkansas since 2011. Baum received her BS in Dietetics (2000) and her PhD in Nutritional Sciences (2004) from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Baum was a postdoctoral scholar in Cellular and Molecular Physiological at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine in Hershey, PA (2006). Following her postdoctoral experience, Baum worked  in the food industry in The Netherlands before returning to academia. 

Baum’s research focuses on the role of dietary protein through the lifespan to prevent development of chronic disease. Her lab uses a molecule-to-man approach to identify mechansims of action and develop dietary interventions of dietary protein on metabolism, appetite, and markers of chronic disease. Baum, along with Hickey, also launched the DFEND Program (Diet, Food, Exercise and Nutrition to prevent chronic Disease) aimed at providing up-to-date nutrition and physical activity information to all Arkansans. 


Erin Howie Hickey is an associate professor of exercise science in the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation in the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas. She is an adjunct research fellow in the School of Physiotherapy and Exercise Science at Curtin University in Western Australia. She earned her Ph.D. in Exercise Science from the University of South Carolina (2013) and her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiological Science from the University of Maryland (2008). 

Her research focuses on children’s physical activity, particularly the effects of physical activity on educational outcomes. In addition to implementing diverse interventions to increase physical activity, she measures complex activity patterns, including sleep and sedentary behaviors. Hickey is the faculty advisor for the Exercise is Medicine initiative at the University of Arkansas since fall 2018. 


Good Medicine is one of three Honors College Signature Seminars scheduled for spring 2023. Other topics to be explored include Teeth--taught by Peter Ungar, distinguished professor of Anthropology and director of the Environmental Dynamics PhD Program --and Bad Medicine--taught by Tricia Starks, professor of History. 

Deans of each college may nominate professors to participate in this program, and those who are selected to teach will become Dean’s Fellows in the Honors College.   

Honors students must apply to participate, and those selected will be designated Dean’s Signature Scholars. The course application is posted online on the Signature Seminars web page. The deadline to apply is Friday, March. 31 

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