October 20, 2014

Healthier lifestyle for those 50+ focus of research

Meghan Baruth has a lot cooking — both in the proverbial oven and a literal one.

The assistant professor of health sciences hasn’t been a member of SVSU’s campus more than six months and already she’s gained a reputation with the men’s basketball team — which her husband coaches — as a flesh-and-blood Mrs. Fields, capable of baking up to 100 “monster cookies” at a time for the roster’s consumption.

But sweets admirers shouldn’t be fooled by the gluttonous amounts of chocolate chips, M&Ms, peanut butter and oatmeal in each bite. Baruth is a health advocate.

In her proverbial oven is ongoing research into the dietary and physical activity practices of adults 50 and older, along with efforts to change those practices for a healthier lifestyle.

“It’s very behavior-based,” Baruth said of the sort of studies she began as a faculty member at the University of South Carolina.

She has applied for grant money to continue her research studies here with colleague Rebecca Schlaff, assistant professor of kinesiology. Baruth also plans to enlist student help in the initiative, which she hopes to begin in the summer or fall. 

In the meantime, she plans to enjoy her new surroundings, both at work and home.

She joined the university about a year after her husband, Randy, began coaching the basketball team. Since her arrival, she said she’s considered SVSU “a diamond in the rough.”

“Recruits are shocked at what we have to offer,” Meghan Baruth said of SVSU. “My undergrad (institution) was similar in size but so different in terms of research and how nice the campus is. I’m really happy here.” 

Even the intensely cold winter hasn’t fazed this newfound affection. While her previous residence was in the sunny South, Baruth is a native of Minnesota, growing up in a small town north of Minneapolis. She later earned her master’s degree from infamously icy Fargo’s North Dakota State University. 

Baruth relates to her new friends in Michigan in other ways. The avid sports fan is loyal to the Minnesota Vikings, an NFL team whose history of win-lessness she likens to the Detroit Lions’ losing legacy. “We’re in the same boat,” she said. 

Her other interests include staying active and remaining fit. It’s a state she accomplishes in part by following up her other hobby — cooking — by swiftly sending the food elsewhere. 

“I like to bake and then get it out of the house,” Baruth said. “The basketball players take care of that."