Healthy ageing and sustainable nutrition for Europeans

Results of the 12th European Nutrition Conference

23-Nov-2015 - Germany

Many important and - even sometimes - controversial topics and trends in nutrition have been debated and discussed over the conference. 1,600 participants had access to the most recent findings in nutrition along the life cycle. Public health, chronic diseases, sustainable diets and food-quality/order_t/'>food quality and safety conferences have provided the perfect framework for the presentation of multiple research. Findings on obesity, importance of breastfeeding, physical activity and school menus have attracted many interested participants. A special view was taken to some food as dairy products consumption as well as sugar intake.

Topics along the lifespan

Well-known scientists from all over ther world have taken part in the conference. Professor Walter Willett, Harvard University, and 5 plenary speakers worldwide recognised, have provided evidence that nutrition plays an important role in all stages of life. Specially in pregnancy and early childhood, programming the further life situation.

FENS was also honoured with Luis A. Moreno Aznar presence, professor of Public Health at the University of Zaragoza and researcher in early periods of life: “We still lack of complete information on the food and nutrient intakes of children and adolescents across Europe. We have enough data on status of some micronutrients, but the information is not complete.”

Because of his findings and research in the field of ageing processes, Thomas Kirkwood is a leading authority. Kirkwood is dean for ageing at Newcastle University's Institute for Ageing and Health. “Contrary to widely held belief, the body is not programmed to die, it is programmed to survive. Ageing process is much more malleable than we think and is affected by quality of nutrition.” Body and cell ageing depends on many factors such as micronutrient rich food, personal stress and enviromental effects. To keep the body of relative youth, dietary restrictions may be helpful. “But there is no universal mechanism that works in all species”. He concludes: “Enjoy life and respect the science”.

Population growth is also a challenge to face for Tim Benton, professor of Population Ecology at University of Leeds (UK): “As the world gets richer diets change. Increasing wealth decreases malnutrition on a global basis, but in the developing world malnutrition is associated with lack of calories and nutrients, and issues like stunting.” On the contrary, “in the developed world poverty is often associated with malnutrition in the sense of over-consumption of calories but lack of access to nutrition”, leading to poverty being associated with obesity, diabetes and other Non-Communicable diseases (NCDs).

Concerns about environmental sustainability are more than ever in the spotlight, and Benton has contextualised those that relate to nutrition issues: “Our current food system leads to poor nutritional outcomes for about half the world’s population. The environmental costs of food production are enormous: 30% of the greenhouse gasses emitted by humanity are to do with food production and logistics.” Alongside, there is an increasing population wanting “westernised” diets. So as Benton points out “they become real issues to do with”. Producing enough food for all in a way that provides environmental sustainability will be a challenge. To him, this leads to the need of conceptualising a system to deliver “sustainable nutrition” providing food for a healthy life and planet.

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