Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Snapshots from ICD

Three sessions reviewed
Two thousand dietitians converged on the Sydney Convention Centre in September for the International Congress of Dietetics. With so much to see it was hard to decide which sessions to attend. We have put together a summary of three interesting presentations from the conference.

Food Insulin Index Presentation Overview

Kirsten Bell from Diabetes Australia presented the results of an intervention trial investigating which foods stimulate insulin secretion and the relative differences as indicated by the Food Insulin Index (FII). Unlike the Glycemic Index (GI) which indicates the effect of carbohydrate in a food on blood glucose levels, the FII is a measure of the normal insulin demand of a whole food. The FII is determined by taking 1,000kJ portions of food and measuring the insulin response relative to a reference food. Similar to GI, the higher Index numbers indicates greater response. It appears from the results that all three macronutrients affect insulin secretion, not just carbohydrate.

Some example values:

Mars bar 89
White bread 73
Apple 43
Grain Bread 41
Beef 37
Chicken 19

Kirsten explained that the FII is an emerging area of research and so it is not recommended that dietitians use this in counselling of patients until more research has been conducted. Current research is investigating if following a lower FII diet can lead to reduced risk of glucose intolerance and so help with blood glucose control.

GoScan Presentation Overview

GoScanTM is a new smart phone app that will allow Australians to scan the barcode of products on the shelf to access information about the product including ingredients, allergens and nutrients. There will be a controlled release of the app in October and the general release is planned for March 2013. A total of 15,000 products will be able to be scanned, representing 60% of the products on shelf. The company is working with organisations such as the Heart Foundation Tick and the Healthy Kids Association to also provide information about the products that meet the criteria for these programs.

Are our kids fibre recommendations a little rough? Presentation Overview

The current Australian recommendations for fibre intake for children are based on population studies. This assumes that children are eating enough fibre to maintain healthy bowel function because there is not a high prevalence of digestive health issues in Australian children. However, at a breakfast seminar hosted by Kellogg Nutrition, Professor Terry Bolin from the Gut Foundation shared the results from a survey of Australian children in 2011 which found that 40% of Australian children (8-12 years) do regularly suffer pain, constipation or diarrhoea. The mothers surveyed reported recommending their child drink water to ease constipation rather than increase fibre in the diet. So perhaps the current recommendations are not enough. Professor Joanne Slavin, a fibre expert from the University of Minnesota, pointed out that unfortunately there is not enough research on the amount of fibre children need for good gut health.

The Gut Foundation is also currently conducting research looking into the effect of high fibre breakfast cereal on digestive health. It is hoped this 14-day trial will add to the evidence for the benefit if fibre in the diet of children. Professor Bolin highlighted that as we tell people to eat fewer calories fibre intake reduces, so it is important to help people, including children, make smarter choices.

Final word....

My favourite quote from the conference: ‘We live in an era where people die by their own hand, by their fork’, Julian Cribb, author.