19th International Congress on Nutrition & Health
Title: Effects of what we eat on our health; what can be said about it, and by whom?
Biography: Loek Pijls
In present days, information about the influence of what we eat on our health comes in many forms and from many sources, and its reliability varies enormously. Latter may depend on the source of information’s interests and motivations. Governmental bodies may provide food-based dietary guidelines and recommend levels of nutrient intakes. History may show examples of certain industries and politics having had their influence on e.g. the advocating of dairy, or vegetables & fruits; nevertheless their information will be mostly objective and minimally biased. Dieticians and medical doctors have patients’ best interests at heart and will advise accordingly. At times, however, the influence of marketing of e.g. supplements and medical foods may escape the required dose of scrutiny - combined with a health care professional’s eagerness to be “seen to be doing something”, partly because certain patients expect and demand this. Food companies can exist only by virtue of the fact that they can sell the foods they produce. It is unavoidable and to be expected that anyone selling a product will be more vocal when it comes to good, rather than about bad news about his or her product. It is prudent to bear this in mind when considering food producers’ information. To further protect consumers from being misled, many countries have established rules for e.g. nutrition & health claims, corresponding to, respectively, what is in the food, and what it does. The liberty that writers of e.g. diet books have very different from the tight regulation of what food companies can say about their products. To my knowledge, and unlike it is the case for producers of foods, no laws impose, on authors who want to sell their books, that what they write needs to be truthful and meaningful.
NB: This presentation will provide insights and observations gathered over a several decades of working in a variety of fields of nutrition. Even though objectivity is sought throughout, some presenter’s subjectivity cannot be fully excluded.