Nursing Doctoral Student to Study Spiking Obesity Rates in South Korea

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A Johns Hopkins School of Nursing doctoral student has recently been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship. Lorenzo Nava will spend 10 months in South Korea studying an alarming increase in obesity in the country. South Korea cuisine is typically regarded as a weight-loss miracle in some Western countries.

Nava said that the rapidly developing nation of South Korea has moved away from its traditional cuisine in the years since the Korean War. “It has changed from a developing nation into a very rich nation so fast,” he said. South Korea’s diet which was once high in vegetable intake has progressed to a more Western-type diet with larger portions of meats and breads being eaten.

Seoul National University College of Nursing professor Yeon-Hwan Park will team up with Nava to determine which local communities will be targeted for assessment. The pair will then work to find ways to influence healthier dietary choices.

He is already very familiar with the South Korean culture having spent two months in the country in 2009 as part of an immersive “critical language” fellowship. He expressed an eagerness to continue building his relationships within the country in what he feels is a tremendous educational opportunity.

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Associate Professor Hae-Ra Han has been credited with first making the obesity connection. Nava believes that other developing countries could face similar health problems. “We want to find ways to help cultures thrive economically without the health consequences that can come along with it,” he said.

Nava completed his final defense for the Doctor of Nursing Practice Program in May after preparing a nutritional curriculum in response to the Navajo metabolic syndrome. Nava spent two years on a southwestern Navajo reservation studying the syndrome. He commends Hopkins for allowing him the opportunity to collaborate with great minds during his time in the program.