Dr. Pat Attends IUNS 21st International Congress of Nutrition

The IUNS 21st International Congress of Nutrition (ICN) convened in Beunos Aires, Argentina, October 15-20, 2017. The International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS), established in 1946, seeks to promote advancement in nutrition science, research, and development through international cooperation at the global level; to encourage communication and collaboration among nutrition scientists as well as to disseminate information in nutritional sciences through modern communication technology.

Dr. Pat, MFK Founder & Executive Director, attended the conference and sat down to talk about her time spent and what she learned.

There are a lot of nutrition conferences that take place. Why did you attend this conference?

This conference only takes place every 4 years. This conference presented me with a unique opportunity to meet with people all over the world doing research in the nutrition field, and to think about the long range issues in nutrition and health. I was able to meet new people who are doing work in this area from whom I can learn.

When you attend these conferences, what is your agenda? What is that you seek to do?

I am always wanting to learn something new. It is continuing education for me, not only about nutrition facts but nutrition research. The people at the conference are people who spend their life thinking about nutrition and often approach it from a point of view different from mine which is quite informative for me regarding how I can approach nutrition in Haiti.

Tell me a bit about how you spent your time at the conference.

All day there were simultaneous panels. At one time there could be 5 panels taking place. So by the end of an attendee’s time at the conference, she would be able to hear everything she wanted to hear. There was plenty of time during breaks and in between panels to engage with speakers, meet up with others, and share ideas. We [MFK] are planning to develop a new version of supplementation for pregnant women so it was important for me to interact with people who have thought a lot about this topic.

Can you share some of the things that you learned about nutrition?

  • It costs twice as much to buy a healthy diet as it does to buy an unhealthy diet.
  • The foods that are good for you from most nutrient dense to least nutrient dense are: vegetables (not bamboo); fruits; fish, low fat meat & soy; eggs; dairy (low-fat); nuts & seeds; beans; whole grains; tea & coffee.
  • It may be more affordable for governments to fortify foods with vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, folic acid, B12, zinc and iodine, than to make it possible for the poorest urban people to eat more fruits and vegetables grown far away.
  • Having safe water and a hygienic toilet, waste disposal, and garbage collection will make a community more healthy; however only governments can do this.

Dr. Lora Iannotti, Associate Professor  and Associate Dean for Public Health, Washington University in St. Louis – Brown School

Dr. Pat Wolfe, Founder & Executive Director, Meds & Foods for Kids

Carlos Andres Gallegos, Third Year Phd Student, Washington University in St. Louis – Brown School

What were your greatest takeaways?

First, there is a double burden meaning there are poor countries with high incidences of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and malnutrition. While I think we have thought about malnutrition and its treatment and prevention, I do not think we have yet come up with ways to address obesity, even though we talk about it. Second, sugar and oil are the cheapest calories in the world.

Has this conference changed your perspective on the work you do? If so, in what way?

I do not think that my perspective has changed but rather attending this conference has energized me – energized me to see so many people doing the same work that I do.  Seeing so many smart positive people dedicating their life to making the world a better place is truly uplifting.