Webinar Series

December 2015

Jamie Stang, MPH, PhD, RDN
Helene Kent, RDN, MPH

Nutrition and Preconception Health

Join us to hear about the increasing body of research on women’s health during the reproductive years. Learn the latest on how women’s preventive and clinical care during this time – known as preconception health – can impact the future health of women and children. This webinar focuses on both the public health and clinical aspects of nutrition. To register click here.  

To view all of our upcoming webinars visit Webinar Series.


COPE offering nutrition counseling here on campus.

Now you can receive free nutrition counseling through the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and education (COPE). This is exclusive for Villanova employees enrolled in Villanova’s health benefits plan! Whether you are seeking to eat better, lose weight or help prevent or manage a medical condition, COPE is here to help. Meet privately with a Registered Dietitian here on campus to develop a personalize plan to help you meet your nutrition, wellness, and overall health goals. As we all know proper nutrition is an important component of overall health. Contact Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, with any questions at or click here to sign-up now!

Community Outreach

COPE and the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA working together to keep kids healthy!

The MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) has partnered with the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA to implement “Wild for Wellness,” a pediatric obesity prevention after school program at the Christian Street YMCA in Philadelphia. Wild for Wellness educates students on healthy eating habits as well as provides the children with an opportunity to participate in regular physical activity. The program is funded by a one-year Aetna Foundation, GoLocal: Cultivating Healthy Communities grant.

Corporate Sponsorship

Here at COPE, we welcome the opportunity to collaborate with sponsors who share similar interests with our network of health professionals. As a sponsor of our monthly webinar series, your company will gain visibility with leaders in nursing, dietetics and fitness and be able to highlight your products and services. Since October 2012, COPE has attracted, on average, more than 400 participants for each free webinar. Don’t miss the chance to strengthen your image, build brand awareness and remind our listeners of your product over a period of weeks and months. Advertise today with leaders in the health community!  For more information contact Rebecca Shenkman MPH, RDN, LDN or 610.519.5931.


Does your group share COPE's mission? The Center is interested in aligning with organizations having similar visions, such as governmental agencies, corporations, foundations, schools, other colleges and universities, and coalitions.  Start a conversation by contacting Rebecca Shenkman MPH, RDN, LDN or 610.519.5931.


The MacDonald Center for Obesity Prvention and Education (COPE) is an non-profit organization.  To make a charitable tax-deduction directly to COPE please contact the College Development Officer - Julie Anne Smith or at 610-519-7538

Contact List

Be the first to know about our webinars and conferences. Join our mailing list by completing the COPE Contact Form.

Today’s Dietitian, October 2015Seeds and Grains in the Dairy Aisle 

Rebecca Shenkman, MPH RDN LDN – Director of COPE – comments on the rise of seeds and grains in the dairy aisle in addition to the nutritional benefit of such added ingredients.

Prevention Magazine, September 30, 2015, The Obesity Paradox: 4 Times It's Healthier To Be Overweight

Rebecca Shenkman, MPH RDN LDN – Director of COPE – is quoted in this article about the myths and truths of the obesity paradox.

The Philadelphia Tribune, November 2014

The Healthy Futures program - a multimillion child obesity prevention program funded by the Independence Blue Cross Foundation - was once again featured with Villanova University College of Nursing MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education noted as a partner for the Eat Right component of the program. Read the full artice here

The Christian Science Monitor

COPE’s Interim Director Rebecca Shenkman MPH RDN LDN comments on the recent decision by urban school districts to phase out antibiotic raised chicken served to school children. Read the full artice here.

US News & World Report

Looking for some good advice? See what COPE's director Erin Winterhalter had to say to a US News & World Report reporter on 'Healthy' Foods You Shouldn't Be Eating. The story was also picked up by Yahoo


Erin Winterhalter, Director of COPE, offered expert commentary to NBC10 yesterday for their story on the FDA banning of trans fats.!/news/local/The-FDA-Bans-Trans-Fats/231065151

The Philadelphia Tribune

Blue Cross launches health campaign in 20 area schools

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Five Phila.-area schools to begin wellness program



Obesity rates in the United States have reached epidemic levels and impacts people of all ages, races and socioeconomic levels. The rise in obesity and its related diseases has led to a call to action from all segments of society.  In response to this urgent need, the College of Nursing at Villanova University established the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE).

Established in 2011 through the generous support of The MacDonald Family Foundation and The Take Shape for Life Foundation, the Center serves as a locus for interdisciplinary collaboration in the prevention of obesity through education and research.  It will support and foster the growing need for development of healthy lifestyles and behaviors among Americans. 


The mission of the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education is to serve as a model for education and research that promotes healthy weight management and the prevention and reduction of obesity-related diseases across the lifecycle. 

A non-profit, the Center will support and develop educational programs and evidence-based services for health professionals, educators, students, families, community groups, worksites and the public. 


Through the united expertise of physicians, nurses, dietitians and other health professionals, the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education will develop strategic initiatives to address the obesity epidemic nationally and globally.  The Center's goals are to:

1.      Provide continuing education programs on obesity and obesity-related disease for health professionals and educators.

2.      Enhance the education of nursing and other college students in nutrition, obesity prevention and health promotion strategies.

3.      Partner with health agencies, organizations and corporations to develop best practice programs for populations that are significantly impacted by health disparities and the obesity epidemic.

4.      Participate in research to expand resources that support evidence-based approaches for obesity prevention and intervention.

Non-Endorsement Statements

ACSM approved providership of this program does not imply endorsement of the sponsoring organization’s products/services.

Accredited status does not imply endorsement by Villanova University or ANCC of any commercial products displayed or used with an activity.

Continuing Professional Education Accredited Provide Status does not constitute endorsement by CDR of a provider, program or materials.

ANCC Accredited Provider

Villanova University College of Nursing  / Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) is a Continuing Professional Education (CPE) Accredited Provider with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).

In June 2013 accreditation was granted with distinction, the highest recognition awarded.



The American College of Sports Medicine's Professional Education Committee certifies that Villanova University College of Nursing Continuing Education / Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) meets the official criteria for official ACSM Approved Provider status from (2012 - 2015).  Providership # 698849

COPE healthy holiday eating tips

Check out this sensible advice from COPE Interim Director Rebecca Shenkman, MPH, RDN, LDN for the Healthy Futures initiatives with Independence Blue Cross. COPE is a partner in Healthy Futures which aims to fight pediatric obesity and promote wellness. To read the full artice click here.

COPE Joins STOP Obesity Alliance

The MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) based in the College of Nursing at Villanova University has recently been accepted as an Associate Member of the STOP Obesity Alliance, housed in The George Washington University School of Public Health.

“It is a great honor to be a part of the Alliance,” says COPE’s Director Erin Winterhalter, MPH, RD, LDN, CDE. The Alliance Steering Committee is comprised of national level organizations (for instance the American Heart Association, American Medical Group Association, The Obesity Society, and CDC) and is led by Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness at GWU School of Public Health & Health Services.

The Alliance identifies and removes the public and private policy barriers that hinder prevention and management of overweight and obesity. The group takes action and makes recommendations to address obesity. “We will share research, join efforts on similar projects, and attend meetings with other associate members,” notes Winterhalter.


COPE Partners with Springfield School District 

The MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE), housed in the College of Nursing at Villanova University, brings worksite wellness to Delaware County in 2014. It’s a critical topic today since investments in employee health can improve employee productivity, decrease absenteeism and lower health care costs for the employer.

Springfield School District’s Director of Human Resources, Linda Bellace, identified a need for her staff and sought area registered dietitians who could assist her in programming a worksite wellness program. COPE was called to action as the district’s exclusive provider of nutrition seminars on professional development days, lunch n’ learns during the lunch hour, and will be a part of the district’s health fair this spring.

“We look forward to working closely with the faculty and staff of Springfield School District this spring,” says COPE’s director Erin Winterhalter.


3 strategies to reduce childhood obesity- 1)sugar-sweetened beverage excise tax, 2) elimination of the tax subsidy for advertising unhealthy food to children and 3)nutrition standards for food and beverages sold in schools outside of meals-would save more in health care costs than the cost to implement them according to a recent study.

The 2015 Snack FACTS report by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut shows an increase in the number of television advertisements for unhealthy snacks in the past 5 years, despite food companies’ promises to market healthier products to children.

Removing added sugars from a child's diet improved blood pressure, cholesterol readings and other markers of health after just 10 days.

Study finds  that large chain restaurants that list the calorie counts on their menus offer more lower-calorie choices than those that don't provide calorie counts.

A brief history of the "obesity epidemic".

A Healthy Body Often Equals a Healthy Brain  Experts report that people can build up their “brain reserve”—or the brain’s ability to combat the effects of aging—through various lifestyle changes including a healthy diet and regular exercise.

Virtual Reality Simulations Offer Potential for Breakthrough in Preventive Care  Researchers find that virtual reality simulations that exhibit the physical impact of drinking soda is more impactful and prompts behavior change more than pamphlets or other types of videos.

Doctor’s Weight Affects Obesity Diagnoses  A recent study shows that overweight doctors are less likely than other physicians to diagnose patients as obese. Many do not feel competent enough to offer advice on diet and exercise.

Parental support may protect young women against obesity  According to this study, emotional and moral support from mothers helped reduce the risk of obesity in their daughters twelve years later. Maternal support had a larger impact than socioeconomic status and family structure on daughters’ weight.

Greater Risks for Pregnant Moms with Obesity  Doctors urge obese women to lose weight before conceiving, citing risks of gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, and depression.

Could programmed gut bacteria be the key to suppressing appetite?  Scientists are working on creating gut bacteria that could act as an internal appetite suppressant.  However, it may be a long time before it will be available for human use.

Study shows that a Los Angeles ban on fast food did little to combat obesity.  However, small retail stores with quick, calorie heavy treats may have a greater effect on people’s food buying habits.  

A recent study finds that oxytocin nasal spray may reduce food intake and insulin sensitivity.  The study, which was conducted on a small group of men, had promising results.

Depression is linked to lower dietary quality and higher BMI.  A new study suggests that mental health interventions may have broad benefits for residents living in food deserts and experiencing depression.

Children who are heavy television viewers are likely to carry the habit into adulthood. In addition, frequent viewers in childhood are more likely to report “fair” or “poor” health and to be overweight or obese as adults.

Obesity may raise women’s cancer risk by 40%.  According to a British study, obese women have a one in four risk of developing weight-related cancers, such as cancers of the bowel, uterus, pancreas, and esophagus.

Consider holistic approaches to children’s nutrition for better overall health. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it is best to focus on a whole diet pattern, rather than focusing on reducing or eliminating specific nutrients like salt or sugar.

COPE Nutrition Counseling

Giving and Partnership Opportunities


The MacDonald Center for Obesity Prvention and Education (COPE) is a non-profit organization.  To make a charitable tax-deduction directly to COPE please contact the College Development Officer - Julie Anne Smith or at 610-519-7538 or Edward Stephen, Director of Development, The College of Nursing 610-519-5315.


Does your group share COPE's mission? The Center is interested in aligning with organizations having similar visions, such as governmental agencies, corporations, foundations, schools, other colleges and universities, and coalitions.  Start a conversation by contacting Center Director, Rebecca Shenkman MPH, RDN, LDN or 610.519.5931.

Sponsors and Exhibitors

As a non-profit Center, COPE supports collaboration in the prevention of obesity.

For details on how you can become a Sponsor or Exhibitor email

Contact Information

Be the first to know about our webinars and conferences.  Join our mailing list by completing the COPE Contact Form.  

Want to contact us? Reach Rebecca Shenkman, Director of COPE at or 610.519.5818.