A pharmacist's perspective on health and metabolic disease
I recently had the utter privilege of attending the Swiss Re/BMJ Food for Thought conference held in Zürich in June 2018.
It was great to catch up with friends who I feel I hardly see in person, like Jeff Gerber, Richard Morris, Georgia Ede (although I saw them all only in March at Low Carb Breckenridge). And even better to meet new people, who I may have only spoken with over Skype, or simply read their work, like David Unwin, Sean McKelvey and Campbell Murdoch.
Full credit to John Schoonbee/Fiona Godlee of Swiss Re and BMJ for organising a conference that deliberately provoked difficult conversations and controversial topics. They organised for a series of articles to be written (all found here) for a BMJ supplement that forced collaborations between people with opposing views on many topics – such as Gary Taubes and Walter Willet. (I believe it was Gary who suggested their colleague should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize…..)
The amount that could be seen between everyone was incredible and I wonder if even more could have been achieved if the similarities were further discussed than some of the arguments over the differences.
Fiona Godlee summarised the key learnings of the event in the following way:
Finally, one key point that was driven home during some of the “robust academic debate” was that we are all biased and have conflicts of interest around food. For example, can someone who advocates for a vegan diet and lifestyle remain impartial during a discussion on the health benefits (or lack thereof) of red meat? Even detesting a food such as brussels sprouts because you had a bad experience with them as a child* can set up a bias against a food. This is a part of human nature, but being self-aware can help to modulate these thoughts, while declaring these personal conflicts of interests can help others interpret the information you provide.
End of Part 1……
*My grandmother used to boil brussels sprouts until they were just short of “mush”. Being served this eight times in a week when I was staying with them as a youth does not set one up for a liking for these in future. However, I’m told that this was an improvement on her mother’s cooking; apparently my great-grandmother used to put the cabbage on to boil before the roast when in the oven for Sunday lunch. These days, I prefer my brussels sprouts lightly sauteed with bacon and walnuts.