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Georgian Nutrition Society holds landmark conference in Georgia on Nutrition and Health

‘Importance of Nutrition in Preventing Disease: Current International Research, Challenges and Opportunities for Georgia’.

In the modern world we face many challenges of which the health of the population remains a key one. Public Health professionals know very well that it is easier and cheaper to prevent disease than treat it, with healthy eating being a principal means for this.

Major changes in eating habits and lifestyles over the past two decades have created additional health challenges in Georgia, so there is a great deal that we can learn from the scientific community. There has been a significant increase in diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer, many of which are linked unhealthy eating habits.

Our partner society, The Nutrition Society (UK and Ireland), one of the largest learned societies for nutrition in the world, kindly agreed to support the conference and provided eminent speakers who presented their vision on the newest developments in nutritional science and its role in tackling various health problems. Georgian scientists presented their view on the challenges public health faces in relation to modern nutrition and their vision for the future development of nutrition and nutritional science in Georgia.

The conference took place at Rooms Hotel in Tbilisi. Key speakers included Professor John Mathers, Director of the Human Nutrition Research Centre at Newcastle University; Professor Bernard Corfe from Newcastle University; Professor Philip Calder, Head of Human Development and Health at the University of Southampton; Professor Julie Lovegrove, Director of the Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition at the University of Reading and President of The Nutrition Society (UK and Ireland). Delegates came from a variety of backgrounds from Georgia including nutritionists, public health workers, GPs and other healthcare professionals.

The objectives of the conference were to learn from the experience of the West, given their extensive research on the harmful effects of modern diet on diabetes, cancer and CVD. It aimed to demonstrate the importance of nutrition in society and patterns of disease and the need for relevant modern education.

Contemporary nutrition research in Georgia is at an early stage of development, so it is particularly important to study and implement the best practices in the world. Georgia's rich gastronomic traditions, variety of food and eating habits and lifestyle need exploring. That is why it is so important to involve our international partners in finding potential areas for collaboration.

The Georgian Nutrition Society strives to educate the Georgian population on the medical importance of nutrition, on the role of nutrition leading to an increase in some non-communicable diseases; diseases that are linked to modern eating habits and lifestyle. We also strive to communicate with the relevant policymakers on the role of healthy nutrition in the development of public health policy and its economic benefits, on the importance of training of business operators in food safety risk assessment and educating them on the health implications of food they produce and import.

British academics and scientists are helping Georgia to set up courses in nutrition. Primarily, we would like nutrition incorporated into the curriculum at medical universities and long term we hope Georgia can offer degree courses in nutrition and food sciences.

GNS hopes to make the conference an annual event to contribute to the understanding of the evident but complex relationship between the food we eat and our health. We are planning to set up a “Forum on Nutrition and Health” and this will be presented at the 2023 conference. Its aim will be to provide a platform for leaders in nutritional science and health professionals to exchange knowledge and ideas, to find common ground and collaborate with policymakers, farming industries and food companies to initiate projects together for the good of all.

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