- With Mayo Clinic nutritionists
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.read biographyclose window
Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.Katherine Zeratsky and Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer K. Nelson, M.S., R.D., L.D., C.N.S.D.
Jennifer Nelson is your link to a better diet. As specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, she plays a vital role in bringing you healthy recipes and meal planning.
"Nutrition is one way people have direct control over the quality of their lives," she says. "I hope to translate the science of nutrition into ways that people can select and prepare great-tasting foods that help maintain health and treat disease."
A St. Paul, Minn., native, she has been with Mayo Clinic since 1978, and is director of clinical dietetics and an associate professor of nutrition at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
She leads clinical nutrition efforts for a staff of more than 60 clinical dietitians and nine dietetic technicians and oversees nutrition services, staffing, strategic and financial planning, and quality improvement. Nelson was co-editor of the "Mayo Clinic Diet" and the James Beard Foundation Award-winning "The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook." She has been a contributing author to and reviewer of many other Mayo Clinic books, including "Mayo Clinic Healthy Weight for EveryBody," "The Mayo Clinic Family Health Book" and "The Mayo Clinic/Williams Sonoma Cookbook." She contributes to the strategic direction of the Food & Nutrition Center, which includes creating recipes and menus, reviewing nutrition content of various articles, and providing expert answers to nutrition questions.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor of the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, she is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She's active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
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Oct. 4, 2011
Recognizing that words carry weight
By Jennifer Nelson, M.S., R.D. and Katherine Zeratsky, R.D.
Two recent studies have gotten me wondering about common weight terms we use in our nutrition practice — obesity and exercise.
In the first study, Yale researchers looked at parents' perceptions of common terms used to describe excess weight in children. The terms fat, extremely obese and obese were perceived by parents as negative and blaming. These terms were also seen as less likely to encourage weight loss. Instead, terms such as unhealthy weight and weight problem were perceived to be more motivating for weight loss. I suspect that the same holds true when speaking to adults about their excess pounds.
In the second study, University of Michigan researchers looked at rebranding exercise. In other words, using a marketing approach to persuade individuals to exercise. Often health care providers encourage exercise to promote long-term benefits such as health, weight loss and longevity. However, this hasn't seemed to be effective in motivating people to exercise. The researchers looked at shifting the message from what is most important to the clinician to what is most compelling to the patient. They found that individuals were more likely to exercise when the health care providers emphasized the immediate benefits of exercise, such as feeling good, reducing stress and increasing energy.
What struck me most about these studies is that terms we often use in our practice may be off-putting to those we're trying to help. I'm sure that this will create ample controversy. Some people may think that sugar coating our words may not portray the importance of the need to lose unwanted pounds and to exercise regularly. On the other hand, using more tactful terms to discuss weight — or to encourage exercise — may be the best way to achieve those goals.
- Jenniferblog index
- Puhl, RM, et al. Parental perceptions of weight terminology that providers use with youth. Pediatrics. 2011;128(4):e786.
- Segar ML, et al. Rebranding exercise: Closing the gap between values and behavior. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2011;8:94.