Noted Neuroscientist, Nutrition Expert to Visit Springfield College Nov. 19

SPRINGFIELD — The Springfield College Center for Wellness Education and Research (CWER) will host world-renowned neuroscientist and nutrition and diet expert Nicole Avena on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. in the Fuller Arts Center.

Avena’s presentation, “Why Diets Fail: Because You’re Addicted to Sugar,” will focus on years of research showing that sugar is addictive, and present a science-based plan to stop cravings. The event is free and open to the public.

Author of more than 50 scholarly journal articles, Avena’s research suggests that overeating of palatable foods can produce changes in the brain and behavior that resemble addiction, findings that have jump-started an entire new field of exploration and discovery related to the obesity epidemic. She has presented her research to an array of audiences, including pharmaceutical companies, diabetes-prevention groups, food-industry marketing executives, nutrition groups, and obesity-education groups.

“Our food supply has changed so drastically in the last two decades, and one of the biggest changes is the amount of sugar in our diet,” said CWER Director Richard Wood. “Along with other leading scientists, Dr. Avena has helped us understand that sugar has powerful addictive effects. Given that sugar is hidden in so many of the things we eat every day, it is no wonder people have such a difficult time maintaining a healthy weight and metabolism. Dr. Avena’s work is critically important to the health of our nation, and we are very proud to welcome her to Springfield College in November.”

Avena has contributed to articles in Men’s Health, Psychology Today, Bloomberg Businessweek, and WebMD. She also has lent her expertise to the recent discussion on New York City’s ban on large sodas. The New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Assoc., and the National Institute on Drug Abuse have honored her research achievements. She earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology from Princeton University, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in molecular biology at the Rockefeller University in New York City.

Housed in the Springfield College School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, CWER’s mission of is to serve as the region’s pre-eminent source for best practices in nutrition and physical-activity programming for young people.