Another spectacular line-up of speakers was set up for the day, and we even had an invigorating stretch break, led by Petra Kolber right before lunch to get us re-energized and refreshed.
From the Beginning: Feeding the Children
Dr. David Katz kicked off the symposium with his talk From the Beginning: Feeding the Children, starting it with a hilarious spoof on Paul Simon’s Writing on the Wall. As he stepped out on stage, he sang, “Out of all the crap I learned in med school, it’s a wonder I can think aaaat alllll…” Between his hilarious vocal performance this day, and his poetry reading from the day before, the man sure knew how to get a crowd’s attention!
Dr. Katz used his time with the audience to talk about childhood nutrition in terms of perinatal nutrition and school-based nutrition interventions. He discussed how nowadays, weight gain during pregnancy is not being as encouraged, simply because more and more women are already overweight going into pregnancy. In addition, he highlighted some key considerations for mothers-to-be and perinatal nutrition, including the importance of monitoring weight gain, the decision to breastfeed or not, and the decision to go organic or not, among others.
On school-based health and nutrition interventions, Dr. Katz said:
“It has been found that school based interventions (nutrition education, in addition to actual changes in the food environment) are successful. Better still are the programs that also engage the parents. Unfortunately, though successful, these interventions have been found to have only a modest effect on weight change. If you add up the hours in a child’s day, much more time is spent outside of the school than in.”
Dr. Katz was inferring that even though these programs have defined themselves as “successful”, their impact on the obesity epidemic is minimal. We’re going to have to provide programs that target these children where they’re eating behaviors are actually being shaped: in the home.
Interview with Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN
After hearing Dr. Katz speak, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Registered Dietitian, Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, to interview her on the roles food and nutrition play in adolescence:
Lindsey: How has being a parent affected the kind of advice and counseling you provide children and parents regarding health and nutrition?
Elisa: The difference has been going from book advice to advice as it applies to real life. I’ve learned so much more about kids’ nutrition needs from my own children, and how to apply my book knowledge to real life situations. Fast food or no? Snacks or not? I’m able to work with my clientele on a different, more relatable level now because I’ve been there.
Lindsey: Conversely, how has being a dietitian shaped your children’s eating habits and perceptions of food as they have grown up?
Elisa: My children have grown up seeing mine and my husband’s eating habits, and we try to teach by example so they know what balance and moderation look like. We create healthy boundaries with them but also really empower them to make their own decisions when it comes to food; we never want them to feel restricted. My child has asked, “Mommy what does this make for me?” about certain foods, meaning “what does this food do for my body?” They understand that different foods impact their health differently because we’ve given them the tools they need to be critical thinkers.
Nutrition During Transition
Later in the day, Dr. Joan Sabaté, MD, Dr.PH, spoke on coronary heart disease and the protective health benefits conferred from nuts, including their ability to lower total cholesterol, lower LDL cholesterol (the “lousy” cholesterol), lower the LDL:HDL ratio, and they may even increase your HDL cholesterol (the “healthy” cholesterol). He also talked about the protective health benefits that unsaturated oils, whole grains, and adequate omega-3 intake have been found to have – so next time you need a quick snack, try a handful of walnuts or almonds!
For a recap on the rest of the symposium’s day 2 speakers, check out my fellow media bloggers’ posts as they become available:
What an amazing two days of nutrition knowledge! I am honored to have been a part of such a fabulous event, and I can’t wait to see what next year’s conference brings!