Nutrition Lecture for the Biomedical Society
On Thursday 6 October, a group of Sixth Form Science and non-Science students took the opportunity to attend a talk by Dr Layla Aljawad on the topic of nutrition.
In her talk, Dr Aljawad, now retired and currently living in Iraq, guided the students through her journey to becoming a nutrition consultant, with particular emphasis on the many obstacles that she had to overcome. She also spoke on the daily responsibilities of a nutrition consultant and what part they play in benefiting society as a whole.
Introducing herself, Dr Aljawad spoke of her ethnic origin in Iraq, where she lived for most of her youth, and her lifestyle in America where she worked until her retirement. Dr Aljawad grew up in a country severely war-torn, under the dictatorship regime of Saddam Hussein. As a result, she encountered many obstacles in attempting to educate herself and develop her professional career.
She was most fortunate to be offered a grant scholarship to study and work in the USA. At this time, she had three infant children whom she had the responsibility of caring for and supporting, as her husband was not offered a similar grant. She completed her PhD at the University of Iowa and became a professor at the university. The grant offered was conditional, meaning that if by circumstance she was unemployed at any given point, she would be deported back to Iraq.
After developing her medical career, Dr Aljawad eventually became a nutrition consultant at the Herman Kiefer Health Clinic in Detroit where she was involved mainly in advising on the nutritional requirements of children and pregnant women, as well as identifying nutrient deficiencies. At one time she was involved with investigating the causes of an outbreak of lead poisoning in children.
In her talk, Dr Aljawad placed a particular emphasis on the importance of a balanced diet which includes vitamins and minerals and the appropriate intake of protein. She was reassuring about being a vegetarian, providing that meat is substituted with foods of high protein value such as different types of nuts and beans which are consumed daily. Dr Aljawad also emphasised how detrimental a diet of mainly fast food can be to health. Dr Aljawad’s talk was memorable and inspirational, not only for her expertise and insight into dietary related issues but also because her story revealed such perseverance and resilience.
Written by Neda Alkateb, Year 12