From left: Sergio Pastrana (ICSU VP External Affairs), Lucy Sun Hwang (National Taiwan University), Ibrahim Elmadfa (IUNS President – University of Vienna)
Session chair and President of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences Ibrahim Elmadfa gave a talk on Wednesday titled Energy balance and diet quality in the control of obesity dealt with the often neglected part of the obesity equation- the energy expenditure side. Elmadfa spoke about how over time, caloric expenditure has decreased significantly.
“Neither fat nor carbs can alone explain obesity; it’s more the energy balance component that is responsible,” said Elmadfa. “We’ve had a wave of light products but if people habitually eat more of this, they’ll end up where they started; they will simply eat more. ”
Nigel Sunley from South Africa highlighted the fact that it should be food scientists and technologies that translate consumer needs into products, and so he asked Elmadfa how food scientists and technologists could change their thinking to fit this issue of energy expenditure.
“In my view, the first point should be to focus on the diversity of foods. To go for lower energy density foods. Meat or meat products are not to be avoided totally but you can consume of them less frequently, in smaller portions. Milk and milk products are very important to you, so we would never say avoid them but we would say take the low fat products and focus on this. The focus on fruits and vegetables has been neglected and I think we should make use of all the sources, fresh and dried, canned or frozen. The other point is to encourage performance of more and more often physical activity. This is something that we also have to think as a society and not leave it for the individuals.”
University of Minnesota’s Prof. Mary Schmidl spoke Wednesday about the issue of “Globesity,” a talk that centered around the question that everyone would like to know- who is to blame?
As to be expected, there are so simple answers. One reason is due to the fundamental changes that have taken place over time have altered the way we think about food. Food has been made cheap, everything is convenient, and we drive everywhere.
For school age children, difficult economic times means math and science won’t get cut, but physical education may.
“Why not change the paradigm? Get kids to walk to the bus stop and then walk to rest of the way there!”
Schmidl spoke about how in the creation of public policies, economic policies are followed by agricultural policies, with nutrition policies coming in as a distant afterthought, instead of having the policies integrated.
So what’s the answer about who’s to blame? The truth is, it’s individuals, technology, schools, communities and public policies that are all to blame.
“It’s a social, cultural, scientific, and multi factorial challenge for us,” said Schmidl. “From the farm to the consumer to public health, food scientists are right in the middle. It’s the whole system working together that’s going to make a difference.”
The President of IUFoST, Geoffrey Campbell-Platt was asked to make a statement on the theme of the Congress ‘Global Food Security and Wellness through Food Science and Technology’
We are all interdependent on food. Food does not recognize any national or regional boundaries. Ingredients are able to come from one country, to be processed in another country to then be eaten in a different country. So the more we educate Food Scientists and Technologists in higher education about consumer awareness the safer and the more secure the food supply we will all have. The idea of ‘Wellness’ is all about a balanced diet. It is about nutrients being available, from micronutrients to macronutrients. The world now has 7 billion people with 1 billion suffering malnutrition and on the other end of the spectrum another billion suffering from obesity. Our challenge is to distribute the food more safely and more fairly and to make sure we all have enough food to eat, or overindulge and create disease and health problems. That is the challenge for us all and that’s what we are addressing here in Brazil.
– Geoffrey Campbell-Platt IUFoST President