April 24th 2013: the 1st Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt

Summary

This new international event, which brought together experts in medicine and nutrition, aimed to demonstrate the health benefits of yogurt and promote research into the topic.

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Last week, the American Society for Nutrition (ASN)’s Scientific Sessions were held in Boston. Alongside this annual event, a brand new meeting premiered: the first Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt was hosted on April 24th. The ASN and Danone Institute International partnered up to bring this event into being, the first step of a collaboration between the two entities, whose aim is to “evaluate the state of the science surrounding the relationship between yogurt consumption and health”.

Yogurt has an impact on societies’ global health

The first ever “Yogurt Summit” was jointly organised by ASN and Danone Institute International, along with the Dairy Research Institute and the Nutrition Society. It brought together experts in medicine and nutrition science, dieticians and service providers to address the place and role of yogurt in modern diets. The benefits of yogurt were studied from various angles, through the general sessions as well as in dedicated workshops. Yogurt is actually a rather unique foodstuff, as it is packed with nutritional benefits and also highly accessible, both in terms of cost and availability. The attendees thus reflected on how yogurt contributes to building gut health, thanks to a rich and diverse microbiota (you can read our article on food and medicine to learn more on that specific subject). Its importance in terms of bone solidity was also tackled, while a workshop was dedicated to fortified yogurts and the crucial role they can play in improving the health of populations with specific needs. On a more general level, the Summit focused on the effect of yogurt on weight management and food-related non-communicable diseases like obesity.

All in all, the first Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt worked to demonstrate

the impact of yogurt and dairy consumption on health outcomes and health care costs, particularly related to chronic health conditions:

individual diets are in fact of the utmost importance in terms of public health, and yogurt has an important role to play in helping to improve health across the globe – consequently checking public health expenditure. This particular issue (which we will write about in a forthcoming article) gave way to a dedicated workshop on nutri-economics, exploring the tight links between nutrition and the economics of health, both in developed and underdeveloped countries.

But the Summit did not seek solely to review the body of scientific knowledge already available regarding yogurt: it really was a first step which launched reflection on the specificities of yogurt. The process will help identify research gaps and determine where there is room for improvement. It has thus been announced that annual scientific conferences are to be held

in different regions of the world to share research findings and encourage new research on the topic.

Last week’s event in Boston was definitely just a start. The proceedings will be published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in a few weeks, stay tuned…

Photo © Shutterstock /  pcruciatti