Sabri Ülker Food Research Foundation Participated in the 17th International Congress of Dietetics

At the 17th International Congress of Dietetics, held this year in Spain, Granada on September 7-10, internationally renowned scientists addressed the nutrition world's most important topics. The Congress focused on sustainable nutrition challenges, with participants sharing examples of sustainable food production being carried out in different countries.

Food scientists have always promoted healthy nutrition through research, teaching, application, and seamless maintenance. The Sabri Ülker Foundation, keenly aware of the importance of healthy eating, played a key role at this year's Congress.

In line with the conference theme of best practices in sustainable nutrition, the Foundation unveiled the results of its Nutrition Consumption Frequency and Amount Study implemented under the Balanced Nutrition Education Project to the academic world for the first time.

Balanced Nutrition with Balance in Food

The study and its outcomes were presented by Prof. Julian Stowell, Sabri Ülker Foundation Science Committee Member and Oxford Brookes University Functional Food Centre Research Professor. It was conducted under the Balanced Nutrition Education Project, an initiative developed by the Sabri Ülker Foundation to encourage children to learn healthy eating habits at an early age.

Aiming at introducing people to the science behind the food they eat, the Balanced Nutrition Education Project has reached 1 million teachers, students, and parents since 2011. The Nutrition Consumption Frequency and Amount Study surveyed 618 students: 33 percent from Izmir, 32 percent from Istanbul, and 35 percent from Kayseri. Researchers were assisted by 140 student volunteers from the Nutrition and Dietetics programs at Marmara, Ege, and Erciyes Universities.

The findings revealed the following data:

Participants consumed significantly fewer calories, fats, and carbohydrates.
Their physical activity levels increased significantly.
Their obesity decreased significantly.

Prof. Stowell made the following recommendations based on the study's findings:

We need spaces where children can conduct physical activity.
Teachers should receive training in healthy nutrition under the auspices of the Ministry of Education.
Children's growth should be monitored at regular intervals.
It is important to expand this study beyond its current 10 provinces across Turkey, thereby involving more students and parents. Nutrition-related courses should be added to the curriculum, and healthy behaviors and attitudes toward food should be instilled in children at a time when their eating habits are developing.

Prof. Julian Stowell

Nutritional Education is a Must

Prof. Sandra Capra, Researcher at the University of Queensland and Board Member of the International Confederation of Dietetic Associations (ICDA), discussed the group's role in organizing studies by internationally known nutritionists and the difficulties nutrition scientists encounter in their research and implementation.

She stated that health professionals and nutrition experts are responsible for applying developments in the field correctly and stressed the necessity of measurable data. She also underscored the importance of keeping developments realistic, well-timed, cost-effective, and understandable to the public. In addition, she emphasized the importance of accrediting studies by dietitians worldwide. Adherence to these standards, she said, will improve the quality of both professional nutritional health services and nutrition science education in the schools. Services in the nutrition area and relevant education can be improved when they serve the common interest of educators, employers, accreditors, and the public at large.

School Breakfast Programs Make Sustainable Nutrition Possible

Maxine Lam from Canada spoke about a sustainable nutrition project in her country: a school breakfast program in more than 256 Manitoba schools. Not only did balanced breakfasts have a positive impact on student socialization, it also ensured that children from particularly poor socioeconomic backgrounds were consuming essential nutrients. At a time when children's eating habits are being formed, she said, the program enabled them to learn about a balanced diet and contributed to their academic achievement.

Prof. Sandra Capra

Diet? Or Healthy Eating?

Maria Ricupero, another speaker from Canada, scrutinized the effects of weight loss diets versus developing healthy eating without focusing on weight loss.

She said that the rate of individuals following weight loss-specific diets rose from 24 percent in 2000 to 54 percent in 2010. Their focus was on losing weight rather than learning healthy eating habits.

Weighing less is often confused with becoming fit, Ms. Ricupero said. Low-calorie diets for weight loss could lead to serious health problems including psychological issues and eating disorders. In a comparison of unfit individuals with fit/normal-weight individuals, Ms. Ricupero found that mortality risks showed a two-fold increase regarding of the BMI value. Current studies indicate that those who focus on eating more fruit, vegetables, and fiber -- unlike dieters who follow a weight-loss regimen -- experience reduced oxidative stress, which can cause cancer and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.

She said that an individual can remain healthy by developing a lifestyle based on healthy eating habits. And, she added, the physiological pressure of weight-loss is not a negligible factor when the goal is fitness rather than weighing less.

The following key points in achieving a sustainable and balanced diet were highlighted at the Congress:

To ensure sustainable and balanced nutrition, school-aged children should learn about nutrition from specialists in collaboration with families and teachers.
Instilling a balanced diet habit during the school years enables children to grow up healthier and increases their academic success considerably.
The first goal in dietetic counseling should not be weight loss; instead, the focus should be on turning healthy eating habits into a lifestyle.
Individuals who develop healthy, balanced eating habits instead of following low-calorie diets are protected from the psychological pressure of the diet mindset and have a reduced risk of chronic diseases.
1- Vaughn W. Barry, Meghan Baruth, Michael W. Beets, J. Larry Durstine, Jihong Liu, Steven N. Blair, Fitness vs. Fatness on All-Cause Mortality: A Meta-Analysis, Progress in Cardiovascular Diseases, Volume 56, Issue 4, January–February 2014, Pages 382-390, ISSN 0033-0620,
2- Francine K. Welty, Abdulhamied Alfaddagh, Tarec K. Elajami, Targeting Inflammation in Metabolic Syndrome, Translational Research, Volume 167, Issue 1, January 2016, Pages 257-280, ISSN 1931-5244,


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