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International Congress of Nutrition
Scientific Meetings

International Congress of Nutrition

The XIIth International Congress of Nutrition, held in San Diego, California, USA, 16-21 August 1981, was the result of four years of planning and much effort on the part of the congress executive committee, other congress committees, the officers and staff of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS), the professional management staff, and the staff of the American Institute of Nutrition, American Society for Clinical Nutrition (A I N/ASCN).

The congress was sponsored by the IUNS, whose outgoing president, Dr. Nevin S. Scrimshaw, and council conducted IUNS affairs during the meeting. The incoming president of the IUNS, Professor Ratko Buzina of Yugoslavia, will serve until 1985, the date of the XlIIlth congress, to be held in Brighton, England. The US hosts for the congress were the AIN/ASCN and the US National Committee for the IUNS, affiliated with the National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council.

Officers of the congress were George K. Davis, president; Samuel J. Fomon and Alfred E. Harper, vice-presidents; John G. Bieri, secretary; and Mattie Rae Spivey Fox, treasurer. The honorary president was C. Glen King, Professor Emeritus of Columbia University, who unfortunately was unable to attend because of illness. Committee chairpersons included James S. Dinning, programme; Ogden C. Johnson, finance; Bruce R. Stillings, publicity; William C. Weir, local arrangements; and Fred H. Mattson, exhibits.

A total of 2,469 persons were registered at the congress, including 242 spouses or guests; and there were additional one-day registrations. Eighty-three countries were represented. Travel grants were provided to 150 younger scientists who presented volunteer papers, and to most non-US invited speakers.

Scientific sessions

The opening and closing plenary sessions, emphasizing the international aspects of nutrition, were chaired by Dr. Scrimshaw and Dr. Davis respectively. The keynote speaker was Soedjatmoko, Rector of the United Nations University, who spoke on the challenge of world hunger. Closing session speakers included James Grant, Executive Director of UNICEF, and George E. Brown, Jr., Member of the US Congress from California.

Fourteen symposia and 12 minisymposia were held on a wide range of topics, such as nutrient requirements and the nutrition component of national policy and planning. More than 100 speakers were invited for these sessions. The symposia were simultaneously translated into Spanish.

Free communications (volunteered papers) totalling 1,011 were accepted for presentation, and were programmed into 37 slide sessions and 28 poster sessions. Twenty-eight workshops - informal discussions on topics of special interest - were a popular innovation. Twenty-nine exhibits of scientific products, instruments, services, and publications were mounted.

Special lectures

Recognition was given to the accomplishments of two scientists. The US Department of Agriculture presented its W.O. Atwater Award to Dr. Joaquin Cravioto of the Mexican Institute for Assistance to the Child. Dr. Cravioto' Atwater Memorial Lecture, titled "Nutrition, Stimulation, Mental Development, and Learning," was given at the congress banquet. The E.V. McCollum International Lecture in Nutrition for 1981 was presented by Dr. Josip Matovinovic of the University of Michigan on the topic "Endemic Goiter and Cretinism." The texts of these lectures are available from the sponsors.


The proceedings of the congress, to include most of the invited papers, is being published by Alan R. Liss, Inc., 150 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10011, USA. The abstract volume is available from the American Institute of Nutrition, 9650 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, Md. 20014, USA for US$25 postpaid.

Scientific Meetings

A symposium on Protein-Energy Requirements and Interactions, sponsored by the United Nations University, was fuel. during the Xllth International Congress of Nutrition in San Diego, California, USA, on 19 August 1981.

The major emphasis of the symposium was on physiological and regulatory mechanisms and interactions of dietary energy and proteins, and on the resultant difficulty of the task of the group of experts convened in Rome by the FAO, the WHO, and the UN University in October 1981 to re-evaluate current recommendations for energy and protein intakes.

Two papers discussed the complexity of the interaction of protein and energy intakes and the ways in which each influences the metabolism of the other, and stressed the importance of considering the dietary needs for these two major nutrients in relation to each other. One contribution focused on mechanisms that may regulate energy intake and expenditure; and another reviewed recent information and presented new data on the effects of exercise on protein metabolism. A final paper specifically undertook an analysis of the problems faced by experts in making recommendations of dietary allowances.

A full report of the symposium presentations will be published in the proceedings of the Congress.

A workshop on the Role of Women in Post-harvest Food Conservation, organized by the United Nations University, held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 8-12 September 1981, evaluated five village case studies completed under a joint exploratory research project of the UNU World Hunger Programme and Human and Social Development Programme, and agreed on an outline for a future research program me.

The findings of the case studies, carried out in Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania, led to the modification of some of the conceptual premises on which the original project had been based, and to the conclusion that a study of wider scope-on women and food systems- should be undertaken.

The twelve workshop participants, including a representative from each of the five case study research groups, proposed a research programme whose focus would be the impact of the food problem on the situation of women and the ways in which women's situation affects the problem of food in relation to the entire food system. The two main substantive areas of research proposed are the material conditions of women in food systems and the ideological and symbol systems which perpetuate the prevailing perceptions of women in society.

The research on material conditions would include studies of the division of labour within the household and the power relations at the level of the household; this would be related to an analysis of class relations in the society as a whole. Specific time-allocation studies of work by gender and age of household units and identification of individual/ collective work would be undertaken. The research would also include an examination of the economic opportunities available to women and of the access of women to extra household resources, such as credit, land, property, technology, etc. An investigation of the potential for women of community-based food-related industries would also be undertaken. Women's participation in the decision making processes related to the use of harvested food and non-food crops, and the extent to which women are involved in the marketing process would be examined, and an analysis would be made of women's formal and informs organizations, the dominance of vested interest groups, and the relevance of women's organizations for women's needs and interests.

The relationship between technology and the situation of women would be analysed through an examination of the appropriateness of women's food technology, the impact of new technology on the life of women and of the village, and the acceptability of new technology to women. Particular emphasis would be placed on women as inventor! and entrepeneurs

The examination of the ideological and symbol systems which serve to perpetuate the prevailing perceptions of women in society would be combined with an exploration of the possibilities for changing such perceptions; the age gender stereotypes mediated in the socialization process would also be examined. Particular attention would be paid to age- and gender-based perceptions, the individual's consciousness of her place in society, and women's opportunities for the initiation of change. Attitudes and values related to food and food technologies would be studied, as would education programmes related to food, and the appropriateness of models underlying educational programmes in relation to food systems. The interrelationship between symbol systems of class, caste, race, and gender and their effects on the health, nutrition, and social position of women would be observed.

While the geographical scope of the research would be confined to the village, the economic and ecological factors would be identified in relation to those at the regional, national, and international levels. Furthermore, the current food situation would be placed in the historical perspective of the economic development of the country in question. The basic research approach would be participatory, with women of the villages chosen for study being involved in the formulation of local research protocols.

A workshop on Food as a Human Right, sponsored by the United Nations University, held in Gran, Norway, 27 September-3 October 1981, examined the relationship between food and the international framework of human rights. Preceded by and drawing on the conclusions of an international consultation sponsored by the Norwegian Council for Research on Societal Planning in June 1981, the workshop focused on human rights and development research in ways that could contribute to the solution of world food and hunger problems.

The 23 participants from 11 countries, whose disciplinary backgrounds included nutrition and nutrition education, law, political science, sociology, and anthropology, reviewed the state of the art of relevant research in terms of conceptual development, methodology, and the points at which food, human rights, and development issues are linked. At the same time, particular emphasis was placed on the international aspects of promotion of the right to food, sets of food-related demands that national communities may propose, and food, ecology, and science in connection with rights/values related to securing adequate food. In addition to the main workshop, several evening sessions were held, including a panel discussion on the infant formula problem in the light of human rights.

The participants noted that the major obstacles to the realization of the right to food include the incompatibility of many development policies with the fulfillment of human rights; the assumption that the traditional, nutrition-science-based indicators of hunger are objective and precise and, therefore, in themselves sufficient for understanding the causes of hunger; the displacement of communities and the appropriation of resources for the production of cash-particularly export-crops and the concomitant disruption of consumption patterns; and the vagueness of existing norm formulations of the obligations concerning human rights assumed but not observed by many states.

In examining the ways in which these obstacles might be overcome, the group considered that the mobilization of forces to question existing food production and distribution patterns was essential. Also proposed were measures to:

For further information about this workshop, please contact Dr. Wenche Barth Eide, Institute for Nutrition Research, School of Medicine, University of Oslo, PO Box 1046, Blindern, Norway.

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