One of the highlights of the Scottish meeting this year was the addition of a new, interactive ‘Question Time’ style Q&A session chaired by Professor Harry J McArdle. After an extremely busy scientific meeting with experts from around the globe sharing their knowledge and research, it was time for the audience to get involved.
The eight members of the panel enthusiastically offered to answer questions on any topic the audience chose! However, luckily for them, delegates stuck to topics from the conference.
To start, the audience were keen to hear a summary of the themes and take home messages from the conference lectures. One of the key points, emphasised by all the speakers, was the importance of new design methods and multi-disciplinary approaches. Using methods and prior findings from animal studies, biochemistry and molecular disciplines can offer new methodologies and solutions for nutrition research.
Questions from the audience then turned towards the practical applications of research and asked what the food industry should be doing to improve diets. It seems even the experts are polarised in their views on consumer behaviour. Answers to this controversial question ranged from suggestions that the food industry could have a major influence on diet if they made high-fat, salty and sugary foods less appealing and stopped advertising them, through to a one word answer, nothing! Some on the panel placed the responsibility firmly with consumers suggesting public health strategies must focus on consumer education in order to effect change.
The final question of the session was a thought provoking one. What can animal studies really tell us about human metabolic disease, and what is the benefit of pumping mice full of lipids? After the gasps from the audience had subsided, the panel were in complete agreement on the answer. Animal models are used to look at the mechanisms of metabolic disease, and whilst they may not provide the whole solution, they provide a useful method for in vivo testing which could not be carried out on humans.
With the day drawing to a close, time was our enemy and these challenging topics could not be explored further. Encouragingly, most delegates stayed on for the drinks reception and had further opportunity to quiz the panel on their areas of expertise, or to just relax and network.