Nutrition & Health Conference – Day 1

Note: This  is a guest post by Stefanie Stevenson, M.D., the Nourish Integrative Physician. She is attending the Nutrition and Health Conference in Boston this week and sharing her experience via the blog!


Hi everyone! Day one of the conference was terrific! Here are a few of my personal favorite “nuggets” of information from today’s lectures:

Dr. Robert Lustig gave a lecture on “The Trouble with Fructose” (he was recently featured on 60 minutes and has a you tube video “Sugar:  The Bitter Truth). Fructose (from high fructose corn syrup and it makes up 50% of table sugar) drives insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance is one of the key factors in obesity and the development of metabolic syndrome. The liver metabolizes fructose the same way as alcohol, which causes the liver to make fat and deposit that fat in the liver, at the same time it induces liver insulin resistance, which drives weight gain and continued consumption.  He also commented that about 80% of all the products in an average grocery store have added sugars.  Our food environment promotes obesity.


Dr. David Eisenberg from Harvard Medical School shared cooking lessons with his talk “Cooking and Culinary Literacy.”  In 1960 America spent 74 billion dollars on food and 27 billion dollars on health care; compare that to what America spends now – 1.25 trillion dollars on food and 2.5 trillion dollars on health care.  Who would you rather pay – the doctor or the grocer?  Culinary literacy is at an all time low.  Learning to cook can be a catalyst of societal change!


There was a great review of the newest FAD diets (FAD = falsely advertised diets), including the sleep doctor’s diet, raw foods diet, the paleo diet, the alkaline (or pH diet), and the BHCG diet.  At any one time, 40-50% of Americans are dieting, making the weight loss industry a > 40 million business.  The take – home point on all of these diets is they may have a kernel of helpful information to them, but taken in their entirety, there is lack of evidence for benefit.  The BHCG diet can pose specific health risks, especially if the active drug is being taken.


Dr. David Ludwig from Harvard Medical School gave a wonderful lecture on childhood obesity.  For all those parents (me) that struggle with getting your child to eat healthy food, Dr. Ludwig suggests two main constructive methods – protect the home environment (if it doesn’t support health don’t have it in your house) and model the behavior you want your child to have.  Young children are programmed to learn about new foods by watching adults.  Teach children what to do, rather then what not to do.  Authoritative parenting styles (respectful with clear boundaries) have been correlated with the lowest risk of a child being overweight.


Look for another update soon and feel free to ask any questions via comments!

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