I was a Nutrition Consultant to the Corn Refiner’s Association when this posted, but my opinions are my own. 

I attended the Pennsylvania Dietetic Association’s (PADA) 80th Annual Meeting in April. The annual meeting is a great opportunity to network with colleagues and hear both local and national nutritional experts deliver evidence-based information for a variety of food and nutrition practice areas. If you couldn’t make it, here are a few highlights from Dietetic Association sessions and exhibits.

At the breakfast session on Monday morning, PADA President Lisa Jones provided an overview of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Association’s Kids Eat Right campaign. This program is a call-to-action to all Academy members to become more involved in their communities with schools, parents and community groups in order to improve childhood nutrition and increase physical activity keeping families and children healthy. Over the past three years in my own community, I’ve been involved in a local effort called Balanced Eating and Movement in Meadville. We ran a three-month pilot program titled Passport to a Healthier You, where we engaged about 90 local families to sign up and receive a health passport encouraging them to attend or participate in a variety of fitness and nutrition activities in our community each month. The families that met our goal to attend 12 events were eligible for prizes, such as grocery gift cards given away at a wrap-up party last summer. I received a mini-grant from the Academy that provided funds to purchase some of the gift card incentives. I encourage other Registered Dietitians to log in, sign up and get involved with Kids Eat Right!

Also announced at the Business Meeting, was our official state name change. As of now, the Pennsylvania Dietetic Association has become the Pennsylvania Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. We are in the process of developing a new logo, so look for more news on that at our website, which is still under construction.

Informative Sessions

There were several other informative nutrition education sessions throughout the meeting. I also had the privilege of speaking at a Leadership Dinner, held on Monday night for Board Members, Planning Committee members, Past Presidents, and other VIP leaders in our commonwealth. I presented information about the science of sweeteners and reviewed high fructose corn syrup myths. All meeting attendees received additional handouts from Sweetener Studies in their tote bags as well, so if you have a question, let me know.

Below is a quick overview of some of the nutrition education sessions I attended:

  • Dietitians concerned about how to communicate information to clients about nutritive sweetener facts received supportive literature showing that HFCS is not uniquely responsible for obesity or diabetes, and is metabolically and nutritionally equivalent to sucrose.
  • We learned how monk fruit is used to create natural, non-caloric sweeteners
  • The average calorie consumption per capita in the US has risen 458 calories per day from 1970 to 2010 (according to 2012 USDA data). Of these calories, fats and oils contribute 53%. 37% are from grains, and only 7% are from added sugars, with 3% from “other” categories.
  • During a fascinating lecture about the Sustainable American Dinner Plate by Mary Lee Chin, we learned how food is viewed in so many ways – as pleasure and entertainment, health or sinful eating, as a social justice issue, and as a proxy for quality, freshness, sustainability, economic development, supporting small farms, and feeding the world. Ms. Chin did an excellent job at comparing the benefits of local, family-owned, organic, farms, and how they may coexist with modern, processed global foods, and the important role of biotechnology.

Finally, it’s always interesting to speak to the exhibitors, and there was some great exhibit space at the meeting. Heinz  (Pittsburgh fans!) was there offering samples of their new microwave oatmeal. It was a little bit sweet for me, but if you’re looking for a grab and go breakfast, it’s definitely worth a try. Turner dairy, a long-standing Pennsylvania dairy, was on hand to provide a look at some new products as well as the tried and true milk they supply for school lunches and food service companies. A new company, called PHRQL, provides a HIPAA compliant Connect and Coach™ online model for dietitians to provide MNT telehealth services to their clients, prebuilt with online charting documentation standards, as well as a mobile app. Finally, I stopped by the Mid Atlantic Dairy association table – always a great local resource for nutritional information about dairy.

If you missed the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2013 annual meeting, be sure to mark your calendar for AME 2014! Check out Eat Right PA for more information soon!