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TODAY news for Thursday, February 11, 2008

School of Public Health news

School of Public Health to host international vegetarian congress

LLU faculty members Joan Sabat�, MD, DrPH, and Ella Haddad, DrPH, present the vegetarian food guide pyramid at the third International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition, in 1997.
LLU faculty members Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, and Ella Haddad, DrPH, present the vegetarian food guide pyramid at the third International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition, in 1997.
In March 2008—21 years after the historic first International Congress on Vegetarian Nut­rition—the LLU School of Public Health will host the fifth installment of the congress.

The March 4 to 6 congress will share the most recent findings and best practices relating to vegetarian nutrition and diets from around the world. It offers an outstanding opportunity for clinicians and researchers, educators and students to learn from each other in plenary sessions, workshops, poster sessions, and social gatherings.

“This is the leading scientific international conference on a topic that is of particular significance for Loma Linda University and Seventh-day Adventist philosophy,” says Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH, chair of the congress and of the SPH department of nutrition. “More than 500 health professionals and scientists from around the world will gather here to present original data and participate in debates and panels with scientific and public policy implications.”

Registration for the congress is now open. To register, visit www.vegetariannutrition.org or call Venice Brown at (909) 558-4595. The cost for the three-day event is $550, which includes a reception and banquet. Students and postdoctoral fellows may attend for $275.

In the past 40 years, scientific endeavors in the area of vegetarian nutrition have progressively shifted from investigating dietary concerns held by nutritionists and other health professionals to creative solutions for various medical conditions and preventive approaches to chronic diseases.

Although professional interest in vegetarian nutrition has now reached unprecedented levels, scientific knowledge regarding vegetarian diets and their effects on human health is far from complete.

Over the years the International Congress on Vegetarian Nutrition has offered a platform for the expansion of this knowledge base. With a goal of integrating current knowledge, the first international congress, held in 1987 in Washington, D.C., was planned to examine the evidence relative to the effects of vegetarian diets on various populations. The proceedings from the first congress were published as a supplemental issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Subsequent congresses were held in 1992, 1997, and 2002. These broadened the scope of topics for discussion. These proceedings have also been added to the scientific literature through publication in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

While the congresses primarily address issues related to dietary practices, nutritional status, and health, such diverse topics as the potential relationship of vegetarian diets to the growing concerns of ecology and environmental conditions, as well as the growing challenge of meeting world food needs, have been discussed.

The third international congress included the presentation of a new vegetarian food guide pyramid developed through consensus by a group of nutrition scientists representing various institutions and dietary traditions.

The fifth congress will continue to expand discussion and offer cutting-edge research and clinical information for the growing number of vegetarians worldwide. However, the information reviewed will be of equal importance to non-vegetarians.

“The evidence is mounting that the consumption of plant foods has beneficial health effects for the general population,” says Dr. Sabaté.

“Nuts, legumes, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are an important component of not only vegetarian diets, but also omnivore diets.”

More details are available at the congress website, www.vegetariannutrition.org.

Also available on the website is the most up-to-date program listing. International nutritional concerns can be seen in the diversity of speakers. Included in the program are Emilio Ros from Barcelona, Spain; Barrie Margetts from the Southampton, United Kingdom; Ingrid Hoffmann from Giessen, Germany; and David Jenkins from Toronto, Canada.

Major universities in the United States are represented by experts including Walter Willett, Harvard University; Connie Weaver, Purdue University; and Jim Joseph, Tufts University.

From the Loma Linda Uni­versity campus, Gary Fraser, MBChB, PhD; Joan Sabaté, MD, DrPH; and Susanne Mont­gomery, PhD, MPH, will be among those making presentations.

The congress will offer 25 hours of continuing education credit for physicians, dietitians, nurses, and other health professionals.

Contributed report

TODAY news for Thursday, February 11, 2008