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New Focus on Nutrition and Health?

I notice that you're having another Nutrition and Health Conference. What kinds of issues are you going to be discussing this time? Is it only for medical professionals or can members of the public attend?

Answer (Published 2/3/2005)

The 2005 Nutrition and Health Conference is scheduled for March 6-9 here in Tucson. I’m very excited about the program we’ve planned, which will cover a wide range of nutrition and health-related topics, both in the sessions designed for health professionals (including students) and the media and during our Public Forum on "Food, Politics and Society," which will launch the conference on Sunday, March 6 and is open to everyone. During the forum, well deal with such topical issues as "The Optimal Diet" (a subject that I’ll discuss), as well as "Micronutrients and the Role of Dietary Supplements" to be reviewed by Bruce Ames, Ph.D., senior scientist at Children’s Hospital, Oakland Research Institute and a professor at the Graduate School in Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California at Berkeley. Others speaking at the Public Forum include Dan Glickman, former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, who will focus on our national agricultural policy and its effect on U.S. nutrition and Walter Willett, MD, professor of Epidemiology, Nutrition and Medicine at the Harvard School of Public Health, who will discuss obesity, diabetes and the food industry.

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The sessions for health professionals will focus on such subjects as nutritional science and the Mediterranean diet, the benefits of a low glycemic-index diet, the challenge to health professionals of the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, and the latest findings on vegetarian nutrition. In separate sessions throughout the three-day conference we’ll also discuss the latest research on nutrition for patients with a number of different health problems including arthritis, allergic diseases, attention deficit disorder, osteoporosis, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease as well as nutritional strategies for prevention of breast and prostate cancer and to prevent or minimize the degenerative diseases of aging. Other sessions will cover what we know about antioxidants, low-carb and fad diets, and whether or not the way you eat really can reduce your risk of cancer. The conference is presented by the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine here at the University of Arizona and sponsored by the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons.

An integral part of the conference is the opportunity to sample various high quality organic foods, from fruits and vegetables to soy foods, teas, chocolate, and cheeses as well as learn from nutrition-minded chefs who will be demonstrating their talents. Rather than eating bagels and donuts, as they do at most medical conferences, attendees can eat well and experience how delicious healthy food can be.

You’re welcome to attend the public forum, and there’s still time for health professionals and the media to sign up for the conference. I expect that we’ll have some important insights on nutrition and health to share on this site and elsewhere after the conference.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

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