The 20th International Congress of Nutrition (ICN) was held in Granada (Spain) from 15th to 20th September.
It brought together 4000 participants from over 120 countries and 700 internationally renowned nutritional scientists, researchers and clinicians to explore the theme: “Joining cultures through nutrition.”
The event aims to reflect scientific excellence and the state of research in a variety of nutrition-related fields. To this end, the ICN hosted several symposia: a symposium exploring the science of yogurt was held by Yogurt in Nutrition, Initiative for a Balanced Diet (a collaborative venture between the Danone Institute International and the American Society for Nutrition). As the Chairs of YINI, Sharon Donovan (PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA ) and Raanan Shamir ( MD, PhD Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University Institute of Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Liver Diseases at Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel ) explain in this presentation video, the aim of the initiative is to collate scientific knowledge on the health effects of yogurt, identify research gaps and communicate the results to the medical profession and the general public.
To coincide with the symposium, the Yogurt in Nutrition Initiative also launched a brand new website and a Twitter account to keep experts, health professionals and the general public updated on its work.
A symposium dedicated to the science of yogurt
The Yogurt in Nutrition Initiative, endorsed by the Danone Institute International and the American Society for Nutrition, is a global, collaborative project seeking to contribute to the state of research and knowledge on yogurt, in several fields: bone health, lactose digestion, metabolic diseases, nutrient density, nutrition economics, sociology, specific populations, weight management, etc. The Granada symposium was in fact an important opportunity to share this knowledge with attendees and experts. Here are the main messages shared at the symposium:
* Andrew Prentice, Professor of International Nutrition at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, explained how milk is strongly associated with human growth and height; and while many international advisory bodies recommend consuming 400-500ml milk equivalents per day, few population groups actually achieve these levels. More, only two-thirds of the 50 national food-based dietary guidelines (FBDG) surveyed refer to yogurt in their recommendations. Consequently, there is room for improvement to raise public awareness.
* Nicole Darmon, Research Director at the INRA (the French National Research Institute of Agronomy), shared her thoughts on how choosing yogurt and milk over more energy-dense dairy products could help French consumers achieve a better nutritional balance.
* Arne Astrup, Head of the Department of Human Nutrition at the University of Copenhagen, explained that
yogurt and dairy consumption is linked, in a range of observational studies, with a reduced risk of weight gain and obesity.
As Sharon Donovan, co-Chair of YINI, states in the video above, yoghurt could in fact help fight obesity and chronic degenerative diseases which affect both the developed and developing world.
* David McCarron, a Professor at the Department of Nutrition at the University of California-Davis, said that an increase in yogurt consumption among a given population, as an essential component of a high quality diet, has been linked to a significant reduction in healthcare expenses. This particular field of research, called nutrition economics, was addressed in Boston at the 1st Global Summit on the Health Effects of Yogurt in April 2013. It was also the subject of an article on down to Earth, in which we explored the link between food, health, and public health expenditure.
As research on yogurt becomes more and more accurate and comprehensive, what really comes out of this symposium is that the next big step is communication. Letting professionals and the public know about the science of yogurt means communicating the results in easy to understand terms and transposing them into recommendations.
This will, in turn, help improve the general health of populations as they will be better informed on how to achieve a balanced diet – undoubtedly an important challenge for the future.
Photo from: © Yogurt In Nutrition