Did you know that the trajectory of your bone health is mostly determined by age 20? In fact, 90% of peak bone mass is accrued by late adolescence. This means that investment in your bones must start early on.

That fact is what inspired Richard Lewis, Ph.D., R.D., to invest the past four decades researching the impact of key modifiable lifestyle factors (nutrition, physical activity, and body composition) on childhood bone health for the prevention of osteoporosis later in life.

I had the honor of recently catching up with Lewis, my mentor, to understand what this year’s National Nutrition Month theme means to him after his 40-plus-year career in nutrition.

Lewis is one of the University of Georgia’s most beloved nutrition professors and prolific researchers. He was my doctoral adviser at UGA, where I received my Ph.D. in foods and nutrition. After making invaluable research, teaching, service, and public health and sports nutrition contributions, Lewis retired in 2020, now holding the distinguished title of UGA Foundation professor emeritus.

During his career, Lewis received $10 million in research grant funding and published over 100 peer-reviewed research articles and book chapters. In addition to key contributions to childhood obesity prevention, Lewis’s research focused on the impact of micro- and macronutrients (specifically vitamin D, zinc, and protein) and exercise on pediatric bone development for osteoporosis mitigation in adulthood. Through the decades, Lewis also spearheaded a variety of outreach activities focused on osteoporosis and obesity prevention.

Lewis and I recently caught up to discuss National Nutrition Month and the importance of personalized nutrition, plus his own dietary approach and the local vegetables he fills his plate with: