Decolonizing Nutrition Science

Craig A. Hassel, Asha Lal Tamang, Lea Foushee, Ryan Bad Heart Bull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Colonization and decolonization are common concepts within the discourse of Indigenous scholars and show significance within the recently emerging Native Nutrition conferences. Yet these words and the meanings they convey rarely appear within scholarly literature of nutrition professionals. To what extent are the concepts of colonization and decolonization relevant to the scope of nutrition education, practice, and research? If they are relevant, why are they not more common within professional discourse? Here we briefly describe these concepts and address these questions. We report findings from a study designed to examine barriers to Indigenous scholar participation within nutrition professions. Our results suggest that greater awareness and more fully understanding the dynamics of colonization hold potential to improve nutrition research, education, and practice. Not only is colonization woven into the tapestry of North American history, but our results support assertions of Indigenous scholars that its deeply embedded patterns still echo through our food, education, and health professions and systems. We identify several barriers and colonizing patterns and 2 interrelated lines of decolonizing work, and present a cross-cultural engagement protocol for pursuing decolonizing work. Exploring the complexities and nuances of these ideas more thoroughly is both a developmental process and a collective responsibility that we see as deserving more attention within food and nutrition disciplines. If implemented, we suggest that decolonizing practice holds potential for advancing nutrition science while also creating a more welcoming environment for future Indigenous scholars.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Developments in Nutrition
StatePublished - Feb 13 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Copyright © American Society for Nutrition 2019. All rights reserved. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. For commercial re-use, please contact Manuscript received June 22, 2018. Initial review completed September 6, 2018. Revision accepted November 25, 2018. Published online February 13, 2019. This work was made possible through a generous gift from the Seeds of Native Health Campaign to the University of Minnesota, funded by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. This writing was conducted as a partnership of the Cultural Wellness Center Fellowship Program and the University of Minnesota. This article was also supported through funding from USDA Agricultural Experiment Station Project MIN-18-113 and University of Minnesota Extension. Author disclosures: CAH, ALT, LF, and RBHB, no conflicts of interest. Published in a supplement to Current Developments in Nutrition. This article appears as part of the supplement “Proceedings of the First and Second Annual Conferences on Native American Nutrition,” sponsored by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s Seeds of Native Health campaign through a gift to the University of Minnesota. The guest editors of the supplement, Treena Delormier and Mindy Kurzer, have no conflicts of interest. The opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors and are not attributable to the sponsors or the publisher, Editor, or Editorial Board of Current Developments in Nutrition. Address correspondence to CAH (e-mail:

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Society for Nutrition.


  • Euro-Western
  • Indigenous
  • colonization
  • cross-cultural engagement
  • culture
  • decolonization
  • epistemology
  • hidden subjectivity
  • nutrition science


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