Another year has passed, and it is now time to recap everything that happened during Nutrition Futures 2022. With last year’s conference taking place in hybrid format resulting from the recent pandemic, this year we were back to being fully in person. Coventry University was our lovely host, who also helped The Nutrition Society to organise the event and arrange the social programme for our delegates. We hope that everyone that attended had a great time, leaned a lot from the excellent knowledge shared from the expert speakers and benefited from all the networking opportunities an in-person conference like this has to offer.
As tradition dictates, the conference was opened with the warm welcome of the Society’s President, Professor Julie Lovegrove, University of Reading. Dr Becky Butler, Head of School of Life Sciences at Coventry University and Dr Isabella Nyambayo, followed with a brilliant interactive taster talk on food sustainability, highlighting importance of global food security.
Student Section chair, Kiu Sum, explained the benefits of being a student member of the Nutrition Society and the opportunities The Society offers for further development like becoming a member of the Student Section. Dr Oonagh Markey, Loughborough University, then gave a keynote lecture sharing her career path and how her engagement with The Nutrition Society advanced her career. She talked about her research on dietetic strategies to promote cardiometabolic health across the life course and the use of novel CVD markers to predicts future CVD events. Dr Markey finished her session with some great advice she would give her younger self like ‘take one day at a time and don’t compare yourself to others – everyone’s journey is different.
Dr Derek Ball, University of Aberdeen followed with an engaging workshop on Public Speaking. He started off with an unexpected costume change and engaging attendees in a fun quiz before explaining the rewards of public speaking and giving useful tips on how to be best prepared for your talk. He emphasised the importance of knowing your material your audience alongside with structuring your talk properly. One of the most exciting parts of Nutrition Futures is the Original Communications session where students get the chance to present their own research. This year 16 students had the courage to share their projects with the rest of the delegates in two parallel sessions and the public had the chance to vote for their favourite.
The lunch break allowed for professional headshots to be taken, before the first plenary lecture was given by Dr Simon Welham, University of Nottingham. Dr Welham spoke of Maternal undernutrition and offspring health, sharing insights into how current socio-environmental issues can influence maternal diets and the importance of the profile of nutrients available to the baby as it grows which can predetermine the child’s health and potentially predispose it to certain chronic conditions later in life. The Nutrition Society Summer Studentship Winner Abbie Colosimo, Coventry University then presented her summer project exploring the association between postprandial blood glucose levels and body weight in adults.
To allow student delegates and professionals to interact, we spiced things up in the afternoon with speed networking. It was so great to see the room buzzing and full of energy from all the face-to-face interactions happening.
Dr Kate Timmins, University of Aberdeen concluded the day with the second plenary lecture on the topic of nutrition data futures. Dr Timmins presented the challenges we are facing dealing with big data, noting how nutrition science involved digitalisation of the old methodologies instead of using technology’s potential. However, with new types of data coming our way there might be a whole lot of new opportunities for advancements in nutrition using machine learning. Some key takeaway points from Dr Timmins were that data doesn’t speak for itself, that caution should be practiced when handling big data and that data is informative if not definitive. The day concluded with an evening social at the Cosy Club in Coventry where our delegates enjoyed a great meal while discussing the highlights of day one and making more new connections.
Day two started with a morning walk around Coventry City Centre and University Campus. I had the great privilege to welcome everyone back at the venue and introduce the first session of the day. This was delivered by Carol Hollier, the Senior Information Literacy and Outreach Manager for the International Food Information Services (IFIS). Carol presented the new nutrition database collection in collaboration with The Nutrition Society. The collection is updated weekly and designed to make it easier for quality nutrition information to be found and bypasses the current issue with predatory journals. This is a huge benefit for student members of the Society as they are able to access the collection for free.
Next Professor Caroline Orfila, University of Leeds, gave the third plenary lecture on the challenges and opportunities of plant-based foods. Professor Orfila gave an overview of the different guidelines, overproduction vs overconsumption and the importance of a global protein transition to keep global warming within limits. Dr Renate Winkels, Wageningen University, followed with a workshop on Publishing. As an editor of the British Journal of Nutrition (BJN) this workshop aligned perfectly to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Society’s flagship journal. Dr Winkels shared her career journey, the scope of BJN and a lot of tips for our delegates on writing and how to start publishing.
Another networking lunch took place before the last plenary lecture was delivered by Professor Anne-Marie Minihane, University of East Anglia. Professor Minihane shared some interesting insights into the rising dementia cases globally, noting a higher prevalence in women, before showing how adherence to a Mediterranean diet can have a protective effect on cognitive health.
Our traditional, and very popular a careers panel conclude the 2022 conference. This year we welcomed professionals from academia, freelancing, animal nutrition, sports nutrition and industry. The panel included Professor Caroline Orfila, Dr Gary Mendoza, Dr Kerensa Hawkey and Dr Hannah Theobald, who all exceeded our expectations and inspired us with the great advice they had to share. Kiu Sum closed the conference with a quick recap of all the highlights before wishing all delegates a farewell.
As my first year being the Nutrition Futures Representative, I am grateful to have had the privilege of working with everyone involved in the organization of the conference. Thank you once again to the Nutrition Society, Coventry University, IFIS and Yakult for sponsoring the conference.