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Villanova College of Nursing’s MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education Partners with Villanova School of Business to Co-Host “Healthy Decision Making in a Food-Rich Environment”

Two-Part Conference to Highlight the Use of Mindfulness in Promoting Healthy Food Choices as well as the Environmental and Contextual Factors That Influence Consumer Food-Related Decisions

Villanova College of Nursing’s MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education Partners with Villanova School of Business to Co-Host “Healthy Decision Making in a Food-Rich Environment”

Villanova, Pa. –Villanova University College of Nursing’s MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) and Villanova School of Business (VSB) are hosting a one-day interactive conference Sept. 15 that pairs evidence-based research on mindfulness and mindful eating techniques used in healthcare and clinical settings with consumer behavior research about how food policy impacts consumer food choice.

Created for nurses, nurse practitioners, dietitians, health coaches, business professionals and policy experts, “Healthy Decision Making in a Food-Rich Environment” is a two-part conference that will be held at 9 a.m. in Driscoll Hall on Villanova University’s main campus. Prior registration is required and may be accessed at this link.

The first portion of the conference, “The Mind-Environment Connection: Using Mindfulness to Promote Healthy Choices,” will explore the use and application of mindfulness in clinical settings for both practitioner and patient; explain the basic tenets of mindful eating and how it can encourage a healthy lifestyle; and break down the practice of mindful eating into easy-to-follow steps. Speakers include Cheryl Harris, MPH, RD, Founder of Harris Whole Health, who will discuss how to advance mindful eating techniques from research to practice; and Susan Stabler-Haas, PMHCNS-BC, an adjunct clinical faculty at Villanova’s College of Nursing and a mindfulness meditation teacher, who will discuss mindfulness methods that may decrease stress and increase focus.

“Mindfulness continues to gain widespread support to promote health and wellness. Mindful eating in particular is being used as a tool to improve eating behaviors, encourage weight control, prevent chronic disease, and foster a healthful relationship with food,” said Rebecca Shenkman, MPH, RDN, LDN, Director of COPE and conference co-organizer. “Pairing mindfulness and mindful eating techniques with the current social, cultural and environmental influences that affect our food world today makes this conference one that effectively includes individuals from many disciplines.”

The second part of the conference, “Eating in Context: Perspectives on the Consumer, the Context, and Policy Drivers of Food-Related Decisions,” will examine the environmental and cultural influences affecting food consumption and consumer purchasing decisions, as well as evaluate progress and challenges in developing effective food policy in the United States. The first speaker of the afternoon session is Paul Rozin, PhD, from The University of Pennsylvania who will talk about the cultural perspectives of health. The conference keynote speaker is Tatiana Andreyeva, PhD, Director of Economic Initiatives at The University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. Dr. Andreyeva will address the United States’ food policy and its impact on food choice.

“We are excited to welcome two leading experts on the impact of environmental factors on food choice and eating behavior to our afternoon session to present their research” said Beth Vallen, Associate Professor of Marketing & Business Law at VSB and conference co-organizer. “By sharing their insights, we hope to foster an interactive and engaging discussion surrounding best practices for encouraging healthy decision-making, as well as how these insights can translate into policy efforts aimed at helping consumers to navigate today’s food-rich environment.”

For more information and questions regarding registration, please contact Rebecca Shenkman at or Beth Vallen at

The Villanova University College of Nursing, established in 1953, is a nationally recognized premier nursing program under Catholic auspices with a mission to create a synergy between compassion and clinical excellence. Designated a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing, the College provides a values-based undergraduate education grounded in the liberal arts and sciences that prepares students to assume positions as productive, ethical, and socially responsible citizens and leaders providing care in clinical and community settings. It also offers outstanding master’s, PhD and DNP programs to prepare advanced practice nurses and nurse educators. Its environment for faculty and student scholarship, its respected continuing nursing education program, outstanding centers for obesity prevention and global health, and the leadership contributions of its students, faculty and alumni in nursing and health care are acknowledged around the world. Visit

The MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) of the Villanova University College of Nursing, was established in 2011 through the generous support of The MacDonald Family Foundation and The Take Shape for Life Foundation. COPE serves as a locus for interdisciplinary collaboration in the prevention of obesity through education and research; supports and fosters the growing need for development of healthy lifestyles and behaviors among Americans; provides evidence-based instruction; and conducts, implements, and evaluates applied obesity prevention and treatment research that is translatable to clinical practice and public health

The Villanova School of Business (VSB) undergraduate program is ranked #1 in the nation by Bloomberg Businessweek and has been at the forefront of business education since it was founded in 1922. Serving over 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students, VSB is home to six Centers or Institutes of Excellence (the Daniel M. DiLella Center for Real Estate, the Center for Business Analytics, the Center for Global Leadership, the Center for Marketing & Consumer Insights, the Center for Church Management and the Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE) Institute) with each center and institute designed to foster innovative, cross-disciplinary research and teaching opportunities for business faculty. VSB is known for academic rigor; creativity and innovation; hands-on and service learning opportunities; a firm grounding in ethics; and an applied education that prepares students to become outstanding leaders and global citizens within the ever-changing, complex, and fast-paced world of business. For more, visit