Social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic is no time to ignore diet and exercise, said Jamie Baum, associate professor of nutrition for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and director of the Center for Human Nutrition.


DFEND — for Diet, Food, Exercise and Nutrition During social distancing — is a free multimedia course from the Division of Agriculture designed to help people focus on health and nutrition during COVID-19 isolation.


The program began in May, providing video demonstrations, fact sheets and weekly nutrition and physical activity education sessions, Baum said. The program also features “Fast Facts” videos designed to help with decisions related to diet, food and exercise during social distancing.


Baum said the program has evolved into a course curriculum to give people basic understanding of food and nutrition.


“We kept getting the same questions week after week,” Baum said. “And I thought that if people had a basic understanding of the functions of diet, food, exercise and nutrition, it would give them a foundation for managing health and well being.


“DFEND provides this through educational opportunities and an open forum to discuss questions related to diet, food and exercise with scientific experts during COVID-19 isolation,” Baum said.


“We will be conducting pre- and post-assessments related to diet, food, exercise, nutrition and health habits of all participants,” she said.


The free course’s objectives include:


Discuss factors influencing food habits and choices with leading experts in the field;


Identify the various nutrients, their food sources, and functions to increase personal nutrition knowledge;


Locate reliable resources for food and physical activity information;


Understand basic nutrition principles to incorporate into selecting a healthy eating pattern;


Discuss the latest science in food and physical activity with the D-FEND community.


“I think this will be a way for people to connect in this time of isolation while also finding important and useful information,” she said.


DFEND is a collaboration of the Division of Agriculture’s Center for Human Nutrition and the University of Arkansas’ Exercise is Medicine program, Baum said.


The Center for Human Nutrition is a research collaboration of the Division of Agriculture’s Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.


The Exercise is Medicine program is an initiative of the College of Education and Health Professions’ department of health, human performance and recreation.


For more information or to register for the program, go to the DFEND webpage — https://aaes.uark.edu/centers-and-programs/nutrition/d-fend/ — and sign up for the newsletter, or contact Baum at the Center for Human Nutrition at cfhn@uark.edu.


To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uark.edu. Follow us on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch and Instagram at ArkAgResearch.


The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.