Our summary of this year’s Nutrition Society summer conference 2021

It was a pleasure to attend this year’s Nutrition Society international conference about challenges in a changing world, and our founder Prof Janet Cade shares some of her conference highlights.

Hosted by the University of Southampton, this year’s summer conference spanned over three days presenting key challenges faced by nutrition professionals as a result of climate change.

As one of this years’ delegates, Dietary Assessment was certainly glad to be directly involved with the cohort, and it was a joy to listen to some interesting and insightful presentations on nutrition and sustainability.

Prof Janet Cade, the founder of Dietary Assessment, shares her thoughts on this year’s summer conference below:

‘Nutrition in a changing world’ a very apt title for a very different feel to the Nutrition Society Summer meeting 2021. The conference started by considering the food system and climate change with talks from Alan Dangour, LSHTM and Jennie Macdiarmid, Aberdeen. The need to take account of the double burden of malnutrition across the world in the context of a system perspective was emphasised. Understanding links between diet and health through appreciating the source of our food. Plant-based diets may offer healthy, sustainable lifestyles, though change is required and is challenging to achieve. Jennie referenced a recent survey from the British Nutrition Foundation suggesting that 41% of responders misunderstood the concept of plant-based eating thinking this meant a vegan diet.

New national policies were highlighted by Alison Tedstone, PHE including the new National Food Strategy being launched. The potential to tackle advertising of specific brands could be next on the agenda. Alison also called for mid-career researchers to consider joining SACN as a route to public service. The conference closed with Tim Key, Oxford giving his expert view on the long-term health of plant-based diets. Vegans must use vitamin B12 supplements or eat fortified foods. In addition, calcium and vitamin D supplements may also be needed to support bone health in vegans.

It was great to see so many PGRs and ECRs presenting their work in posters and talks. The Postgrad Symposium included talks on the need to consider vitamin D in antenatal clinics in relation to gestational diabetes; meat intake potentially increasing the risk of dementia (from Huifeng, Leeds – proud of my PGR); predicting weight loss using differential equations; and unsaturated fat in relation to cardiometabolic disease. The role of nutrition is central to so much of our health experience and these young researchers are taking the field forwards.

The team from myfood24 was also well represented with new information about the healthcare app now available for use in clinical settings. This is based on our validated, robust dietary assessment tool and has a much-expanded database and improved functionality. The team is also working with colleagues from Peru, Carol Zavaleta gave a talk on the challenges of describing food and nutrient intakes in the Shawi population in the Amazon. myfood24 will be used to support this work.

We missed the face-to-face moments, the chance to catch up with old friends (in my case) and make new ones. The Southampton team and the Nutrition Society office did a great job, and we look forward to next year’s 2022 Summer Conference on Food and Nutrition: pathways to a sustainable future.

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