Diet Summit prompts establishment of Latino Nutrition Coalition

In response to a scientific report issued by participants at the recent Oldways Preservation Trust Latin American Diet Summit, Oldways announced the formation of a new Latino Nutrition Coalition. The new Coalition is modeled on Oldways' other successful initiatives, which have caused significant positive changes in consumption patterns.

Scientists, nutritionists, health professionals, food service managers, food industry representatives, and chefs meeting in Mexico City last week for the second Oldways Preservation Trust Latin American Diet Summit. Recognizing the serious health problems (overweight and obesity, plus the resulting diabetes and other chronic diseases) facing Latinos in the U.S. and in Latin America, an "A List" of leading nutrition scientists released a Scientific Report, documenting the specific health problems, and declaring the need for a new program aimed at this population most at risk -- urbanized Latinos (in the U.S. and in Latin American countries).

The chairs of the Scientific Committee included: Hector Borges, MD, PhD, Director, National Center for Nutrition in Mexico City, Hannia Campos, PhD, Associate Professor, Harvard School of Public Health, K. Dun Gifford, President, Oldways Preservation Trust, and John Foreyt, Professor, Baylor College of Medicine.

Following the presentation of the Scientific Report during the Summit's final session, industry leaders immediately responded to its urgent call. Mission Foods, a leading manufacturer of tortillas, pledged financial support to inaugurate the Latino Nutrition Coalition. "I believe in action, and in doing the right thing," said Asima Syed, senior vice president of marketing for Mission Foods. "Mission is committed to providing seed funding for this Coalition, and to bringing industry together to help improve the health of Latinos."

Richard Waycott, president and chief executive officer of the Almond Board of California, another important sponsor of the Summit, said, "The Almond Board has supported Oldways for many years because they consistently communicate sensible and realistic nutrition messages. We look forward to continuing our support through the new Latino Nutrition Coalition."

K. Dun Gifford, president of Oldways noted, "These pledges and the announcement of the Coalition are particularly important because as a group, Latinos have the highest rates of overweight and obesity in the U.S."

John Foreyt, Professor, Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, commented, "Urbanized Latinos are the ones particularly at risk, and this Coalition will develop effective programs to address the problems of this population."

Conference presentations examined the many factors behind these statistics, including the scarcity of culturally-specific health marketing communications.

Other Summit Conference outcomes and activities include:
  • The updated Oldways EatWise brochure has been translated into Spanish Coma Sabiamente - which responds to the intense need for culturally specific nutrition materials (available for consumers, health professionals, media).

  • Announcement of the start-up of a dietitians group, focusing solely on Latinos, The Latino and Hispanic American Dietetic Association.

  • Presentation of a week's worth of Latino meals that meet the new U.S. Dietary Guidelines (available for consumers, health professionals, and media).

  • Recipes from the cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs (Patricia Quintana, Zarela Martinez, Maricel Presilla, Steve Petusevsky, among others), illustrating that delicious, healthy Latino dishes and meals are not expensive, difficult or too time-consuming.

  • Confirmation of the health-promoting characteristics of key ingredients of the healthy traditional Latin American Diet, such as potatoes, almonds, tortillas, peanuts, pasta, beans, corn, avocados, among others.

  • Presentation and tastings of artisanal and traditional Mezcals.
Please contact Wendy Thompson, wendy@oldwayspt.org, 617-896-4888 for:

1. EatWise/Coma Sabiamente (a copy or more information)
2. The Scientific Report
3. Summit Program and scientific references
4. Culinary references and recipes
5. A week of healthy Latino meals.

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