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Rebecca Shenkman - Villanova University. Villanova, PA, US

Rebecca Shenkman

Director of the MacDonald Center for Nutrition Education and Research | M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing | Villanova University


Rebecca Shenkman, MPH, RD, LDN, is an expert in nutrition, weight management, and using food to help prevent and control disease



Areas of Expertise (6)

Diet and Behaviors

Childhood Obesity

Nutrition & Disease Prevention


Nutrition & Lifestyle Changes

Weight Management


Rebecca Shenkman, MPH, RD, LDN, is an excellent quotable source on healthy eating and how to use food to help prevent and control disease. She can speak to how men, women and children can tackle these problems by planning ahead for meals, incorporating new foods into one’s diet, and increasing physical activity to live improved, healthier lives.

Education (3)

Aramark Dietetic Internship: RDN

New York University: MPH

University of Pennsylvania: BA

Affiliations (2)

  • Member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Member of the Weight Management Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Select Media Appearances (10)

Medical Phenomenon: Ozempic's Impact on Fertility Issues Leading to Unexpected Pregnancies

MDLinx  online


The connection between weight and fertility is an established one. Obesity affects hormonal levels and can cause excess estrogen, leading to irregular menstrual cycles. “Obesity can have a significant impact on fertility,” says Rebecca Shenkman, MPH, RDN, LDN, Director of the MacDonald Center for Nutrition Education and Research at Villanova University. “Evidence shows that the risk of infertility has been shown to be threefold higher in women with obesity than in women without obesity. Overweight women and women with obesity need a longer time to conceive. The impact of obesity on reproductive function is highly attributable to dysregulation of hormone mechanisms such as lower production and circulation of hormones needed for optimal fertility potential.”

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From Meds to Mindset, Tips on Dieting and Nutrition

KYW Newsradio "In Depth" Podcast  online


Guilty pleasures, genetics, and access to quality food are just some of the factors that make maintaining a healthful diet so challenging. Two nutrition experts - Rebecca Shenkman and Tracy Oliver, both from Villanova University’s M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing - share insights on how to combat and contextualize diet and nutrition-related issues like obesity, while offering strategies about how to improve your lifestyle.

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No One Likes the Flu, but These 25 Foods Might Just Help Your Body Recover Faster

Parade  online


Rebecca Shenkman, director of the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education at Villanova University says to “try putting a few slices of raw ginger root in boiling water if you experience nausea or vomiting when you have the flu.”

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21 Vitamin-Packed Foods for a Healthier Immune System

NBC News  online


“Greek yogurt contains high levels of probiotics which may ease the severity of colds and keep the gut microbiome healthy and ready to fight off infection,” says Rebecca Shenkman, RD, expert in nutrition and director of the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education at the M. Louise Fitzpatrick College of Nursing at Villanova University. “In addition, yogurt varieties with added vitamin D are an even better choice as studies suggest people who consume a diet low in vitamin D are more susceptible to colds and the flu. Check labels to make sure you choose yogurt products that are low in sugar, high in probiotics and have added vitamin D.”

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A New Approach to Combat America’s Obesity Epidemic

Morning Consult  online


At Villanova, the College of Nursing’s MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education and those exploring the behavioral underpinnings of food decision making at the Villanova School of Business are assembling a collaborative, multidisciplinary symposium to help make this innovative approach actionable. By pairing evidence-based research on mindfulness and mindful eating techniques used in health care and clinical settings with behavioral research about how the food environment impacts food choice, as well as how policy efforts might help to build a context of mindfulness and a culture that promotes food for well-being, we can take concrete steps to expanding the body of work in this area and its implementation in combating the obesity epidemic.

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12 Snacks Nutritionists Eat To Curb Cravings



"Air-popped popcorn is a fiber-filled, whole grain snack with about 30 calories per cup. To satisfy a sweet craving, I'll add 1 Tbsp of chocolate chips or 1 tsp of melted butter with cinnamon. For a savory snack, I'll mix a pinch of rosemary with 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and sprinkle Parmesan or garlic powder on top. If I keep my serving to 3 cups, either combo is still only 150 to 200 calories. Combined with a glass of water or seltzer, I feel perfectly full." (Give this ginger-nori popcorn recipe a try.)

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Body Fat May Be Bigger Health Danger Than Body Size

HealthDay  online


"I think these findings help clarify some of the confusion around the obesity paradox," said Rebecca Shenkman, director of the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education at Villanova University College of Nursing, in Pennsylvania. More importantly, she said, the findings highlight the limits of BMI as a health indicator. "We really need to take a step back and look at everything's that going on the body," Shenkman said.

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Seeds and Grains in the Dairy Aisle

Today's Dietician  online


Of course, food marketing likely plays a part, too. As Rebecca Shenkman, MPH, RDN, LDN, director of the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education at Villanova University's College of Nursing, explains, adding in certain grains or seeds to a product may impact labeling as companies try to cash in on particular health buzzwords or ingredients—which in turn could draw in more customers who see "source of omega-3s" or other labels that weren't there before.

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The Obesity Paradox: 4 Times It's Healthier to Be Overweight

Prevention.com  online


Here's the catch: "Someone who is obese or overweight is at a higher risk for developing something like heart disease or diabetes," explains Rebecca Shenkman, MPH, RDN, LDN, director of the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education at Villanova University. "However, once they have the disease, then being in an overweight category seems to offer some protective effect." The obesity paradox doesn't mean we all have free rein to gain weight without worrying about our health; it means once you're already sick, carrying around a few extra pounds might do some good.

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Why 3 million school children will no longer receive antibiotic-laced chicken

Christian Science Monitor  online


“This move is an example of how the food system and the industry has to be changed at the ground level as opposed to encouraging individuals to eat healthier,” says Rebecca Shenkman, interim director of the Villanova College of Nursing’s MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education. “It’s a great idea to provide a more healthful option to begin with because it removes the wrong option at the outset.”

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Select Academic Articles (10)

Unveiling Lived Experiences: Exploring the Health and Lifestyle Effects of COVID-19 on Healthcare Workers.


Shenkman, R.; Diewald, L.; Murray, M.B.; Oliver, T.L.


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Weight bias reduction intervention among nurse practitioner students using simulation-based experiences.

Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners

Oliver, T. L., Burrell, S. A., Furman, G. E., Diewald, L. K., Mariani, B., Starck, M. R., & Shenkman, R.


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Achieving a healthy home food environment: perspectives on parents’ nutrition education needs when living with food insecurity.


Oliver, T., Diewald, L., McKeever, A., and Shenkman, R.


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Empowering Community Leadership: Perspectives of Peer Mentors Facilitating a Food Pantry‐Based Nutrition Education Program.

International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Oliver, T.L.; Diewald, L.K.; McKeever, A.; George, C.A.; Shenkman, R.


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A Year in the Life of U.S. Frontline Health Care Workers: Impact of COVID-19 on Weight Change, Physical Activity, Lifestyle Habits, and Psychological Factors.


Oliver, T.L.; Shenkman, R.; Diewald, L.K.; Bernhardt, P.W.; Chen, M.-H.; Moore, C.H.; Kaufmann, P.G.


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A Study of United States Registered Dietitian Nutritionists during COVID-19: From Impact to Adaptation.


Oliver, T., Shenkman, R., Mensinger, J., Moore, C., & Diewald, L.


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Development of a Weight Bias Reduction Intervention for Third-Year Nursing Students.

Clinical Obesity

Oliver, T., Qi, B., Diewald, L., Shenkman, R., & Kaufman, P.


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Learning environment and evidence among professionals and students’ satisfaction (LEAPS), experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Teaching and Learning in Nursing

Lengetti, E., Cantrell, M.A., DellaCroce, N., Diewald, L., Mensinger, J.L., & Shenkman, R.


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Reflective journaling of nursing students on weight bias

Nurse Education Today

Oliver, T. L., Shenkman, R., Diewald, L.K. & Smeltzer, S.C.


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Nursing Students' Perspectives on Observed Weight Bias in Healthcare Settings: A Qualitative Study.

Nursing Forum

Oliver, T. L., Shenkman, R., Diewald, L.K. & Dowdell, E.


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