8th International Conference on Diet and Activity Methods (ICDAM8)
Written by Robert Coyle
The conference was hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). ICDAM allowed experts in the area of diet and activity methods from all over the world to gather, present, learn, and discuss new research. The fundamental aim was to improve the measurement of diet and physical activity, two critical issues for health and the environment.
Emma Robinson at her poster 'Modelling the impact of reducing saturated fatty acid intake from milk and milk products in US NHANES 2008' at the ICDAM8
The conference began with an emphasis on the importance of communication and feedback of benchmarking data and good practice exemplars to public health advocates, politicians, and the food industry. Improvement of dietary intake methods and measures were a key focus along with how to make methods uniform, particularly across national food consumption surveys. It highlighted the importance of applying research findings and translating them in order to set up effective guidance for policy making and support. It also emphasized the planned changes in the production of food and beverages by industry towards healthier products.
With dietary risk assessments increasingly carried out at the international level, the harmonisation of dietary monitoring internationally is of major interest to nutritionists. However, due to differences in methodologies, there is limited comparability between dietary intake data from the various national food consumption surveys. Major steps towards a harmonised pan-European food consumption survey have been made with ongoing pan-European projects such as the EFSA Comprehensive European Food Consumption Database. This database monitors food consumption in 22 different Member States. Another project, the European Food Consumption and Validation (EFCOVAL) project, looks at estimating the intake of foods, nutrients and chemicals in the context of pan European food consumption surveys. Although some aspects of measurements can be standardised, for others (e.g. sampling frames), strict standardisation seems impossible.
Another series of talks looked at food supplements. More specifically, how supplement intake should be handled and interpreted in data and how the increasing range of products and the constant change in the market should be tackled. No database currently exists for supplement information. Furthermore findings suggest that concentrations are up to 25% higher than actually indicated on the label. Most commonly consumed supplements vary considerably by countries, The EFCOVAL study showed that supplements containing fatty acids are currently the most consumed.
Other talks looked at the sustainability and diversity aspects of diets, especially in developing countries. For example, India has over 450 types of mangos that are consumed; a few of the varieties contain very large concentrations of beta-carotenes, a pro-vitamin A, which can have an impact on total vitamin A intake. Unfortunately to date, the consumption data is not assessed by food variety and therefore it makes it very hard to assess actual nutrient intakes in this case.
Over 400 posters, of various topics, were presented at the conference. Creme presented their poster on ‘Modelling the impact of reducing saturated fatty acid intake from milk and milk products in US NHANES 2008’. In this project the Creme Food® software was used to model the substitution of high full fat milk by lower fat milk alternatives and assessing its impact on saturated fatty acid intake in the US population.
The ICDAM8 conference in Rome provided a great series of informative and inspiring talks and posters and Creme is looking forward to attend ICDAM9 in Brisbane, Australia 2015.