Improve Human Health by Studying Public Health and Nutrition

If you’re interested in improving the health of your community members and want to have the most far-reaching impact possible, studying public health and nutrition may be for you. If you’re interested in helping Americans of color in particular to combat health inequities and live longer, healthier, and happier lives, pursuing a related major at an HBCU is an especially great way to do this.

Continuing Racial Disparities in Public Health and Nutrition

In general, African Americans are at a significantly greater risk of certain chronic diseases than their White counterparts, including the following:

  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure) and other cardiovascular diseases
  • Obesity
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Asthma
  • Pneumonia
  • HIV/AIDs

Half of these categories (heart disease, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes) can be prevented or improved with proper nutrition and regular exercise. Unfortunately, due to socioeconomic and health inequities, a lack of nutrition education, and the unhealthy lifestyles that result from both, large numbers of Black Americans develop preventable nutrition-related disorders each year. 

As of 2019, among Black individuals aged 20 and over, 38.7% of men and 55.9% of women were obese; 56.8% of men and 57.6% of women had hypertension. In 2021, the three leading causes of death for African Americans were heart disease, cancer, and COVID-19.

A Clear Need For Nutrition and Public Health Professionals of Color

There is a serious need for nutritionists and public health experts of color who understand the greater health risks that many Black Americans face as a result of socioeconomic health determinants and racial predispositions to disease. You can help to prevent nutrition-related disease and death by helping Black communities to adopt healthy eating habits as well as get essential vaccinations.

Exactly how you want to do this is up to you. Experts in this field have the ability not only to educate patients, but to do research, teach, campaign, and collaborate to create impactful new health policies. 

This means you can also improve health equity for people in systemically underserved and underinvested parts of the US, who may have difficulty accessing healthy foods, safe places to exercise, health insurance, and high-quality medical care. Enrolling in the right HBCU can give you the social, financial, and academic support you need to help you get started on this path.

People of all ages, races, and life paths can help to improve nutrition and public health in African American communities by supporting scholarships and other forms of funding for HBCUs. You can make a difference in the lives of nutrition and public health students—and their future patients—in one easy step by making a donation today.

Young people who study nutrition and public health have quite a broad array of concentrations and careers to choose from. Some related majors include:

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Food and Nutrition in Business
  • Nutrition, Fitness, and Health
  • Nutrition Science

Whatever your interest, students who plan to pursue careers in public health and nutrition will need to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program in food and nutrition. These include a wide range of related course subjects, which may include:

  • Biochemistry
  • Food chemistry
  • Medicine
  • Lifecycle nutrition
  • Community nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Epidemiology
  • Food manufacturing
  • Food service management
  • Food marketing

Careers in Public Health and Nutrition

Graduates in this field may pursue careers in a wide variety of environments. Some of these include:

  • Related community organizations and nonprofits
  • Educational institutions
  • Hospitals
  • Health and fitness companies
  • Nutrition and research laboratories
  • Related corporations
  • Government agencies like the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Want to learn more about this possible career path and college major? Have questions about which UNCF colleges and universities offer degrees in public health and nutrition? Looking for help with financing this degree?

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How to Prepare for Success

In order to be successful, students in public health and nutrition should have excellent critical thinking and analytical skills, strong attention to detail, accurate writing skills and keen observational skills. They should also be compassionate people, problem-solvers and good listeners and communicators, as well as flexible thinkers and workers.

UNCF Schools to Consider

To enter the field of public health and nutrition, students must at minimum earn a bachelor’s degree and preferably graduate from a master’s program as well. These UNCF-member schools offer programs in nutritional sciences or public health:

Professional Organizations

There are also many public health and nutrition organizations that can provide more insight into some of the specializations in this discipline. A sample list includes:

Scholarships Available

There’s no better way to start on your path to a successful career in public health and nutrition than with a solid financial foundation. Fortunately, many scholarships are available through UNCF, including some specifically for public health and nutrition-related majors. Keep an eye on the UNCF website for current scholarship opportunities and announcements. 

Search for specific scholarships and view those that are currently accepting applications here! Students should also check with each college or university to see if there are additional scholarships available to study public health and nutrition.

As you explore your options, be sure to use our guide to applying for scholarships and grants. You can also receive guidance by submitting a major interest form if you are interested in a career in public health and nutrition. Submit the form on our website to get started. And follow us on UNCF social media channels to receive notifications about our scholarships and member HBCUs. Reach out today!

You can also show your support for students pursuing careers and furthering equity in public health and nutrition by making a contribution to UNCF member schools. Education is the greatest tool we have in creating a just and equitable society in which economic mobility is available to all.Help us achieve this future by donating today!