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Tbilisi International Conference October 2023

Nutrition and Public Health: joint UK, Türkiye and Georgian conference

Tbilisi, Georgia, 3 - 4 October 2023

2The Georgian Nutrition Society (GNS) in association with the Nutrition Society of Great Britain and Ireland (NS) and the Sabri Ülker Foundation (SÜF) hosted an international conference and workshops in Tbilisi entitled ‘Nutrition and Public Health’ on 3rd & 4th October 2023. The primary objective was to review the situation in Georgia in comparison with that elsewhere and to derive inspiration from initiatives that have made and continue to make a positive impact.

Distinguished academics from all three countries participated, with presentations covering the challenges that public health faces in relation to current trends in nutrition. This underlined the importance of adequate education as well as collaboration between food companies and scientists to improve the offering of more healthy choices.

We are grateful for the contribution to and support of the NS for this conference, which followed on from the two previous joint meetings of our societies over the last three years.  The audience, primarily from Georgia,  Türkiye and the UK, very much appreciated the conference presentations from Prof. John Mathers and Dr Oliver Shannon, Newcastle University, UK, Dr Julian Stowell, Science Committee Member Sabri Ülker Foundation; Prof Diána Bánáti, Vice-Dean for Science, University of Szeged, Sabri Ülker Foundation; Prof F Nur Baran Aksakal, Department of Public Health, Gazi University; Eka Bobokhidze (Anutr)Tbilisi R/I of Sanitary, Hygiene and Medical Ecology, Rusudan Gvamichava, (A Nutr) Georgia, Dr Caroline Saunders, Senior Director, Pladis Global, Avril Aslett-Bentley, NS & British Dietetic Association member and Dr Manana Stanley, President, Georgian Nutrition Society.

The conference was very well attended in the beautiful setting of the Rooms and Stamba  Hotel, Tbilisi. The workshops also attracted a lively and excellent participation, including many Georgian students who demonstrated a great interest in nutrition and nutrition science.  The event also attracted the interest of the Georgian media and was featured on the national television news.

This year we also attracted a large number of online delegates via the Nutrition Society platform. This considerably widened the participation amongst Georgian health professionals. The Sabri Ülker Foundation also enabled the event to be available for Turkish health professionals via their YouTube channel.

The workshops on Day 2 included developing and delivering a nutrition curriculum for medical professionals (led by Prof. F Nur Baran Aksakal from Gazi University), developing and delivering a nutrition curriculum in schools (presented by Begűm Mutus, Board Member, Sabri Ülker Foundation) and nutrition education for parents (presented by Rusudan Gvamichava, University of Westminster).

The Food Industry was represented by Dr Caroline Saunders, Senior Director, global health and wellness, Pladis Global, who gave an industry perspective on achieving improvements in the nutritional status of society. 

Dr. Saunders also led a workshop discussing the role of the food industry in helping to achieve optimum nutrition, illustrated by means of recent commercial examples. This included implementing scientific research findings, through the creation of new healthier products, and in doing so, making a valuable contribution to public health.

As the conference progressed, it became clear that both Turkish and Georgian health professionals face many similar issues, in particular concerning a limited provision for nutrition education. In Türkiye, whilst specific university degree courses do exist in nutrition and dietetics, future doctors still receive relatively little training in how to interact with patients regarding nutritional advice. In Georgia, the situation is even more challenging, as there are currently no university degree courses in nutrition. Given the importance of nutrition to public health, improving education provision was clearly identified  as a key priority.

Plans were unveiled to establish a forum to provide a platform for academics, health professionals, policymakers, the farming industry and food companies, in the region and beyond, to share their knowledge and consider opportunities for collaboration on improving public health for the benefit of all.

The GNS is grateful to both the Nutrition Society (UK & Ireland) and the Sabri Ülker Foundation for helping to organise and support this successful event, as well as to our Georgian sponsors: IDS Borjomi Georgia, Borjomi Beverages Company, Georgia's Natural Organic, Sante GMT Products, Möller. We hope that forging such links between our three societies will lead to opportunities for further collaboration as we share our knowledge and experience.

We are hoping that the proceedings of the event will be published soon. Please look for updates on our website

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