November 23, 2015
2 min read

Experts reach consensus on nutrition recommendations at nonprofit summit

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More than 75 experts from the U.S., Canada and Europe reached a first-of-its-kind consensus on overall nutrition recommendations at the Finding Common Ground summit in Boston, including support for the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report, food system sustainability and improvements in food literacy, according to a press release.

“I find it rather remarkable that we achieved as much consensus as we did,” Walter Willett, MD, PhD, nutrition chair at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in the press release. “The foods that define a healthy diet include abundant fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes and minimal amounts of refined starch, sugar and red meat, especially keeping processed red meat intake low. When you put it all together, that's a lot of common ground.”

The summit was organized by Oldways, a food and nutrition nonprofit organization, and hosted a variety of nutrition scientists, medical experts and media members with diverse dietary philosophies. Led by Willet and David Katz, MD, founding director of the Yale Prevention Research Center, attendees engaged in a debate in which they analyzed dietary study data with the goal of arriving at a consensus on healthy eating, according to the press release.

Ultimately, the group agreed on 11 key points of agreement, including that foods should be sustainably sourced.

“Coming up with an optimal eating plan for us, without worrying about our kids and grandkids, doesn't make any sense,” Katz said in the press release. “We simply cannot discuss health guidelines without including sustainability in that conversation.”

Additionally, the experts agreed on support for widespread food literacy regarding food origins, production, health effects and cultural context, according to the press release.

Summit presenters included Dean Ornish, MD, from the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, who delivered a talk on vegetarian and vegan diets; Miguel A. Martínez-González, MD, MPH, PhD, chair of the department of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Navarra, who gave a talk on the Mediterranean diet; Christopher Gardner, PhD, professor of medicine at Stanford University, who gave a talk on changes in the typical American diet; and Alessio Fasano, MD, director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital, who gave a talk on nutrition, the microbiome and autoimmunity.

Sara Baer-Sinnott, president of Oldways, also revealed future programming for the summit to support and spread awareness of the consensus recommendations, according to the press release. These plans include connecting journalists and nutrition scientists through the Oldways Media Clearinghouse, and partnering with True Health Initiative health experts to educate people “on the proven principles of lifestyle as medicine.”