TORONTO — George Brown College hosted the second annual Ambition Nutrition Symposium on June 28. This year’s instalment focused on the topic of obesity, with the goal of “bridging the gaps between research, education, diet and culinary arts.”
The day was kicked off by opening addresses by Anne Sado, president of George Brown College and Lorraine Trotter, dean of the Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, who highlighted the importance of teaching nutrition to culinary professionals. “To meet the demands of an increasingly health-conscious consumer and foster a healthier Canada, today’s food professionals must draw on expertise from both nutritional science and the culinary arts,” said Sado. “As a leader in culinary arts education and food innovation, George Brown College is committed to bringing these two worlds together as we train the chefs and hospitality professionals of the future.”
Keynote speaker, Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatrics, author and member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at University of California, highlighted the impacts of processed foods on the health of North Americans. Lustig notes that processed foods tend to be lacking in three key elements of nutritional significance — fibre, Omega-3 fatty acids and micronutrients — while containing too many additives, including salt, sugar and emulsifiers. “We are all eating more, no question…the question is what are we eating more of?” The answer: carbohydrates/sugars. Lustig went on to highlight the link between sugar and health problems including diabetes, metabolic syndrome and liver fat.
Following Lustig, Gary Taubes, author and co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative, informed attendees on the science behind why fat cells get fat and why it can be difficult to reverse. Taubes also stressed the importance of changing the way North Americans view obesity and those who suffer from it. “You are what your body does with what you eat,” he explains, noting that genetics play a key role in how and where our bodies store fat. “Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation — don’t make assumptions.”
Chef Michael Smith rounded out the morning program, taking the stage to discuss how modern lifestyles have altered our relationship with food and the implications on our overall health and wellbeing. Smith posited that when it comes to healthy and fulfilling eating, “it’s not just what we eat; it’s not just what we do with what we eat — it’s who we eat with.”
During the afternoon sessions, Carol Timmings, director of Child Health and Development and chief Nursing Officer with Toronto Public Health, addressed the need for an integrated approach to health in order to prevent obesity. She highlighted city planning, education and a “change in the discourse around over-weight and obesity” as key factors on the path to a healthier city.
The formal portion of the day wrapped up with a panel discussion featuring Rickey Yada, dean, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia; chef David Lee (Nota Bene, Planta); and Linda Gillis, nutrition professor, Centre for Hospitality and Culinary Arts. The symposium wrapped up with a series of hands-on cooking classes led by George Brown chef instructors.