The morning started off with a keynote speech by Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz about innovation. He’s a dynamic speaker (I’ve heard him speak at a few Starbucks annual shareholder meetings), and this time was no exception.
The first panel I went to was “Childhood Obesity Solutions: What Industry Can Do.” It featured the chair of the UW Nutritional Sciences department (and my current advisor) Adam Drewnowski, and Barbara Rolls (author of the Volumetrics books, among other achievements).
Dr. Drewnowski pointed out that the “eat less, exercise more” message is not resonating with the general public, largely because people don’t want to eat less. “To solve the global obesity epidemic will require common effort” from academia, the food industry and government, he said.
Contrary to what is often reported, he said, the obesity rate, while being a serious problem, especially in some parts of the world, has actually been stable over the last several years in the United States, the United Kingdom, and a few other areas. This may be just a temporary breather, he said…one that could give concerned parties a chance to regroup and come up with a new strategy. “Something may have been done right, but perhaps we need to do something more.”
The afternoon panel was “Endothelial Function: A New Health Claim Target For Functional Foods?” It featured discussion of my old friends, flavonoids and polyphenols (aka, a few of those natural compounds found in plant foods that research has linked to reduction in cardovascular disease, chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and other nasty things you don’t want happening in your body).
Your endothelium is the lining of your blood vessels, and if it’s not functioning well, its surface is more easily breached by oxidized LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, and from there it’s onward to atherosclerosis and heart disease. So you want your endothelium to be healthy and functioning well! Here are some tips: Drink green and black tea, drink red wine (in moderation), eat dark chocolate (also in moderation), exercise, and don’t eat more calories than you need. I could add don’t smoke, etc., etc.
In a nutshell, the health of your endothelium is just one example of what a healthy diet and a healthy lifestyle can do for you. Preventing heart disease is not like going from Point A to Point B. It’s like going to Points A, B, C, D, E and so on. One of those points is your endothelium. Voila!
Anyhoo, after the conference wrapped for the day I put in a few hours of post-conference work (blogging and thesis stuff) before nearly getting heat stroke walking down the strip to meet Jeff. We ended up at the Aria buffet for dinner because I was badly craving veggies, which I got first in the form of a mixed salad plate: