Joanne Ikeda, renowned nutrition researcher and educator, to retire

  • December 6, 2006
    • CONTACT: Pam Kan-Rice
    • (530) 754-3912
  • N / A
  • Joanne Ikeda - See below for high-resolution version.
    Joanne Ikeda - See below for high-resolution version.

    Joanne Ikeda, Cooperative Extension specialist in nutrition education, lecturer in UC Berkeley’s department of Nutritional Sciences and Toxicology and founding co-director of the UC Berkeley Center for Weight and Health, will retire Jan. 2 after 36 years of service to UC.

    Ikeda is a nationally recognized expert on pediatric obesity and the dietary practices of ethnic and immigrant populations, as well as a strong proponent of obesity approaches that emphasize health promotion rather than weight loss. 

    She is widely known for her pioneering research on the food habits and dietary quality of California's “nutritionally vulnerable” low-income, immigrant and ethnic populations, and has developed culturally sensitive and relevant educational programs for these groups. “Joanne continually brought attention to the importance of targeting messages to the intended audience,” said Sharon Fleming, professor of Nutritional Sciences at UC Berkeley. “Cultural and age appropriateness has been the hallmark of her efforts.”

    By understanding and emphasizing the valuable dietary practices of cultural minorities, Ikeda is able to win their trust and help them maintain healthy habits without abandoning their traditional practices. For example, said Leonard Bjeldanes, professor of Nutritional Sciences at UC Berkeley, “When Joanne approached Native American communities, she emphasized the many positive Native American practices that her previous research had identified. Tribal leaders, who were inundated with grim statistics about health problems in their communities, were delighted to hear ‘good news’ and enthusiastically endorsed a nutrition education project that she developed in collaboration with their communities.”

    According to Fleming, Ikeda’s “remarkable ability to understand and accept the full range of persons, communities and cultures that comprise our world probably led to her taking a strong and effective stand regarding body weight acceptance. She was a pioneer in raising consciousness of body weight discrimination and the concept of ‘health at any size.’”

    Ikeda has authored or co-authored several books and many training manuals designed to help health care professionals, paraprofessionals and parents instill healthy eating habits and encourage physical activity in children and adolescents. She has chaired the Weight Realities Division of the Society for Nutrition Education, is past president of the California Dietetic Association, and was formerly the California delegate to the American Dietetic Association. Recently, she served as scientific advisor to the National Organization to Advance Fat Acceptance.

    Perhaps most significantly, Ikeda was instrumental in establishing the mission of UC Berkeley’s Center for Weight and Health. “In fact, the Center could not have come to fruition without Joanne Ikeda,” said Fleming.

    Ikeda earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science at Cornell University and her master’s degree in Nutrition Education at San Francisco State.

    During retirement, Ikeda will continue volunteering her time with California CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children in Foster Care) to help them develop and implement a health initiative for their staff and volunteers to improve the health of foster children. The health initiative will be launched at CASA’s 2007 statewide conference.

    MEDIA CONTACT:  Until Jan. 2, Joanne Ikeda will be reachable at (510) 642-2790 and

    Joanne Ikeda - Click for hi-resolution version.
    Joanne Ikeda - Click for hi-resolution version.