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TODAY news for Thursday, February 25, 2008

Loma Linda University news

Experts gather for leading scientific conference on vegetarian diet

It is a major event in the health-sciences world that occurs only once every five years or so: the International Congress on Vege­tarian Nutrition. The congress first met in 1987 in Washington, D.C. This year, the fifth congress convenes from March 4 through 6 at Loma Linda University.

An international audience of more than 500 will gather to learn, consider, debate, and discuss plant-based nutrition.

The congress features experts from Oxford University, Harvard University, University of Cali­fornia at Los Angeles, and Austria’s University of Vienna, among others. The presenters—including some bringing original data to the congress—will lecture and participate in debates and panels with scientific and public policy implications.

To register, call (909) 558-4595 or visit www.vegetariannutrition.org.

The proceedings of the congress will be published in a special supplement to the world’s most prestigious nutrition journal, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Highlights of the conference are as follows:

Tuesday, March 4
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that benefit human health—particularly the cardiovascular system. They arise from two sources: fish and plant foods such as walnuts. However, the two are not chemically equal. A debate between two physicians—Alexander Leaf, an emeritus professor at Harvard University, and Iqwal Mangat of St. Michael’s Hospital (a teaching facility associated with the University of Toronto)—will look at whether vegetarians need to include fish in their diet. This occurs at 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday’s schedule also in­cludes a symposium addressing plant-based diets and cancer (beginning at 9:40 a.m.), with speakers including Tim Key, DPhil, of Oxford University. There will also be a symposium on current issues related to soy—including the relationship between soy and breast cancer (beginning at 3:40 p.m.).

The day will start with a keynote presentation at 8:30 a.m. from UCLA’s David Heber, MD, PhD—an expert in the interrelationship of diet, genetic predisposition, and cancer.

Wednesday, March 5
As the nation struggles to control an obesity epidemic, experts disagree on whether a high-protein diet or a low-fat diet is more conducive to healthy weight loss. During an 11:10 a.m. symposium, scientists will present different viewpoints on this. David Jenkins, MD, PhD, DSc, of the University of Toronto, will offer evidence for the high vegetable-protein perspective.

The viewpoint in favor of a low-fat vegan diet will be presented by Neal Barnard, MD, of the Physi­cians Committee for Respon­sible Medicine in Washington, D.C. The speakers will also take into account how the different diets affect glycemic control for diabetics.

A third speaker, Boston University’s P.K. Newby, PhD, will talk about the role of plant-based diets in childhood obesity.

A debate on whether dairy products belong in a healthy vegetarian diet takes place at 4:40 p.m. The two sides will be debated by Walter Willett, MD, DrPH, of Harvard University, and Connie Weaver, PhD, of Purdue University.

Wednesday’s program begins at 8:00 a.m. with a keynote address by Gary Fraser, PhD, MCBhB, of Loma Linda University. Dr. Fraser is principal investigator for the Adventist Health Study-2.

Thursday, March 6
Global warming and the environment will be discussed Thursday afternoon beginning at 3:50. The program will examine the relationship between climate change and food production. Speakers will be Annika Carlsson-Kanyama, PhD, of Sweden’s Royal Institute of Technology; Gidon Eshel, PhD, of the University of Chicago; and Hal Marlow, PhD, of Loma Linda University.

At 9:10 a.m., a symposium on dietary guidelines will convene. This will include a panel discussion on how to better position plant foods in the federal government’s dietary guidelines, due out again in the year 2010. David Jacobs, PhD, of the University of Minnesota, will moderate. The panelists will include Amy Lanou, PhD, of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Dr. Lanou recently served as expert reviewer to a diet book promoting a vegan diet, which became a New York Times paperback advice best seller.

A symposium on plant-based diets and aging will take place at 11:20 a.m., with lectures by Harvard’s Dr. Willet; James Joseph, PhD, of Tufts University; and Donald Ingram, PhD, of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, in Louisiana.

The complete schedule for the three-day program, along with speaker biographies, is available at www.vegetariannutrition.org.

The International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition will take place at Loma Linda University’s Dray­son Center.

By Heather Reifsnyder

TODAY news for Thursday, February 25, 2008