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Culinary Medicine Research

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Culinary Medicine Research

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, is known to have said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Culinary medicine combines evidence-based dietary guidelines for disease prevention and treatment with the practical culinary skills needed to transform these foods into healthy meals. The OU Culinary Medicine teaching model leverages the collective expertise of a chef, registered dietitian, and physician, who guide learners through an original Culinary CuresTM curriculum, which teaches the fundamentals of a whole foods, plant-based diet using hands-on cooking experiences in small groups. Learners include healthcare students, physicians, and community members. Our research primarily focuses on the effectiveness of culinary medicine on nutrition literacy, health behavior, and disease management outcomes. We also conduct research with community food providers to implement and evaluate the benefits of healthy food systems change. 

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Culinary Medicine Research News

April 7, 2021
Lacey Caywood, MPH Candidate, Chef Valarie Carter, MPH, and Marianna Wetherill, PhD, MPH, RDN/LD, were featured as keynote speakers for the Presidential Research Series during OU-Tulsa’s annual research week. Their presentation provided an overview of Culinary Medicine’s community collaboration with Iron Gate Tulsa to integrate “food as medicine” into their soup kitchen operations. Lacey Caywood was also recognized with a special category award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in research and additionally won 3rd place in the social/behavioral category for her poster presentation describing this work.

Research Priorities

1. Adapt and evaluate culinary medicine interventions for at-risk populations who stand to benefit the most from food as medicine

2. Evaluate the effectiveness of culinary medicine on healthcare trainees’ desire and capacity to use food as medicine in patient care

3. Collaborate with community food providers and healthcare systems to elevate the nutritional quality of foods provided in sustainable ways that also raise client, customer, and patient satisfaction 

Food as Medicine Research

Our research includes cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of culinary medicine and related nutrition interventions for healthcare learners, community members, and patients.  

Example publications include:

1.    Wetherill MS, Davis GC, Kezbers K, Carter V, Wells E, Williams MB, Ijams SD, Monlezun D, Harlan T, Whelan LJ. Development and Evaluation of a Nutrition-Centered Lifestyle Medicine Curriculum for Physician Assistant Students. Medical Science Educator. 2018:1-10.

2.    Davis, GC, Kezbers, K, Thomas, V, Carradini, J, Carter, VP, Whelan, L, and Wetherill, MS. Addressing obesity through nutrition and physical activity counseling: medical and physician assistant students’ counseling attitudes and personal health behaviors. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. 2019 November; 112(10): 378-385. Available at:

3.    Wetherill, MS, Whelan, L, Upton, L, Schumann, S, Davis, GC, Carter, VP, and Tollefson, M. Nutrition Prescriptions Made Simple. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. 2019 November; 112(10):370-377. Available at:

4.    Ali, L, Thomas, T, Hartwell, M, Wetherill, MS, Dodier, T, Sisson, SB, Hayes, J. Building Healthy Habits for a Lifetime: Lifestyle Medicine in the Prevention, Early Intervention, and Treatment of Childhood Obesity. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. 2019 October; 112(9): 322-331.  Available at:   

5.    Carradini, J., Kezbers, K., Wetherill, MS, Whelan, L, Williams, MB. Tobacco and Alcohol Use, Risk Perceptions, and Counseling Knowledge and Confidence Among Medical Trainees. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. 2019 October; 112(9): 332-339.  Available at:

6.    Wetherill, MS, Mushtaq, N, McIntosh, H, Kezbers, K, Touchet, B, Dunn, K, Duncan, A, McCain, M, Gordon, JS. Associations between burnout and stress-related coping behaviors among medical students, residents, staff, and faculty: Implications for medical school wellness initiatives. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. 2019 October; 112(9): 340-348.  Available at:

7.    Whelan, L, Hartwell, M, Bell, SB Thomas, V, Huff, D., Wetherill, MS. Lifestyle Risk Factors and Chronic Disease in Oklahoma: A secondary analysis of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey 2017. Journal of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. 2019 October; 112(9): 349-356.  Available at:

8.   Wetherill MS, Chancellor McIntosh H, Beachy C*, Shadid O.* Design and Implementation of a Clinic-Based Food Pharmacy for Food Insecure, Uninsured Patients to Support Chronic Disease Self-Management. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior.  2018 Oct;50(9):947-949.  doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2018.05.014.  Epub 2018 Jul 29.