UCSB’s popular “Nutrition for Health” course may no longer be offered after fall quarter of next year due to cuts to the Exercise and Sports Studies department, according to Professor Art Gilbert.

Gilbert — who received his MA and PhD in Exercise Physiology at UCSB — has been teaching the class for 26 years, but plans to retire next fall, and it is unclear whether the department will have the resources to hire a replacement. The course typically enrolls anywhere from 250 to 800 students per quarter; however, the class will be taught in larger lecture halls for the next two quarters in order to accommodate students interested in taking the class before it is taken off of the course catalog.

Gilbert said while the decision to cut the class has not been finalized, there has been no confirmation from administration that another professor will take over for him.

“It saddens me because I cannot say 100 percent that’s going to happen, but we’ve talked to the people who are in charge and we still don’t have any definitive word that my position is going to continue,” Gilbert said.

Students who take the class examine the best ways to evaluate wise food choices, methods of disease prevention and how their nutrition choices affect their bodies, according to Gilbert.

“The basic thing — and I say this in the beginning of the class — is that I want people to ask and answer two questions: What does the food do to me? What does the food do for me?” Gilbert said.

Despite the fact that the class does not count towards any General Education requirements, students continue to fill up the class’s roster each quarter. According to fourth-year psychology major Claire Chisholm, who has taken the nutrition class in the past, the course helps students by educating them on the far-reaching effects that nutrition can have on a person’s general well-being.

“Art Gilbert’s class is an amazing course,” Chisholm said. “I have benefitted greatly from the information I gained from taking his class. Not only am I more aware of what different foods do to me, and for my body, but it has also helped me gain insight into my future career in psychology — helping obese individuals and individuals suffering from disordered eating.”

Chisholm said now is the time when students need this type of class most, as college years can be formative to future eating habits.

“The college years are a great time to start leading a healthy lifestyle,” Chisholm said. “The information you learn in the class will stay with you forever. It makes me so sad that this course will only be offered for two more quarters. This course has been one of the most influential courses I’ve taken in my entire college career.”

Melissa Woodburn, who served as a TA for Gilbert for three years, said she was disappointed to learn that the class will not be offered much longer, as it provides students with valuable life lessons.

“It makes me want to go tell every single student to sign up for the class while they can. This is one of the only classes that teaches you things that you can use in your every day life, things that should be taught in school but are often looked over,” Woodburn said. “This class really should be required to everyone because obesity is a huge problem in our country and absolutely preventable. Dr. Gilbert makes it easy to eat healthy by giving many examples of healthy food choices and even how to cook them.”

Woodburn added that Gilbert is an effective and down-to-earth professor, who is available to students when they need help.

“He makes students work for their grade but gives a lot of opportunities for extra credit and review of the material. I think he is one of the most fair professors I have ever had and am honored to have gotten to work with him over the past few years,” Woodburn said.

According to Gilbert, the class makes students more aware of how their choices affect their future health.

“The nice thing about this class is that it’s directly applicable to people’s lives,” Gilbert said. “I give them the tools so they understand why is this a good choice, or why is this a poor choice so they can make the choice themselves.”

A version of this article appeared on page 3 of February 21st 2013′s print edition of the Daily Nexus.