“Food is of universal interest; it’s mediagenic. But a lot of rubbish is said about nutrition. The food science sector must rectify this before we lose credibility.” These are the words of Professor Frans Kok, spoken during a lecture entitled Verslikken we ons in de voedingswetenschap? (‘Are we choking on food sciences?’), organised by the Dutch Academy of Nutritional Sciences (NAV) at Oudaen Castle in Utrecht.
Utrecht, 15 January 2013. NAV invited Prof. Frans Kok, Professor of Nutrition and Health and Head of the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University, to give the first in a series of annual public lectures. He is a prominent member and one of the founders of NAV. In his lecture, Kok gave a critical review of developments in the food world, looking back at the recent past and forward to the forthcoming period. More than 60 interested parties attended the lecture, among them food scientists, policy-makers and food manufacturers.
According to Kok, “diet gurus and food evangelists” are confusing consumers and giving food science a bad name. The recent media focus on raw food, the paleo diet and obesity bacteria is distracting attention from the importance of a healthy diet. Kok also discussed trends in food research, including the key role nutrition plays during the first 1,000 days of life; knowledge about unhealthy belly fat and what to do about it; cognitive deterioration among the elderly and the role of food; and brain research into appetite and saturation. New insights are helping the industry and government to take further steps in preventing ‘Western diseases’ and improving quality of life. Funding for this research is proving difficult: Kok says the strong emphasis on public-private partnerships is having an adverse effect on the diversity of the research and the creativity of researchers.
NAV was set up in 2003 as a platform for academically-trained nutritional experts in the Netherlands, to safeguard and improve the quality of applied and fundamental food science. As food and nutrition are of prime importance to public health, NAV aims to become the authority for government, the business sector and social organisations.
For more information about NAV, visit its website (in Dutch).