News sources are increasingly filled with stories about food and health. The sobering statistics on the increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, and other conditions and diseases continue to make headlines. For example, 83% of American men and 72% of American women will be overweight or obese by 2020 if they do not make significant diet and lifestyle changes, according to research presented by a Northwestern University researcher at the 2011 American Heart Association scientific meeting. Some of the news is encouraging though, with eight of 10 Americans making some or a lot of effort to eat healthier, as reported in Shopping for Health 2011 from FMI Research and Rodale/Prevention magazine. Additionally, researchers continue to discover how some foods and nutrients have beneficial effects in disease prevention and overall health and wellness. Join several hundred professionals in R&D, brand management, regulatory compliance, sales, and government as they explain the science and current research and discuss what it takes to successfully develop and market healthful foods at the Institute of Food Technologists’ Wellness 12 conference.Wellness 11 participants network during a break in the program.Tabletop exhibitors will once again be on hand during the conference to showcase products and services.

The conference, to be held March 28–29, 2012, at the InterContinental Chicago O’Hare hotel in Rosemont, Ill., will bring together expert presenters, practical content, and candid discussion focused within individual presentations, several general sessions, and three concurrent tracks on Consumer Lifestyles & Demographics, Weight Management, and Health Issues. Nearly 50 content experts will collaborate to present 21 sessions. In addition to this, the conference provides time for networking with speakers, tabletop exhibitors, and fellow attendees.

Kick off your Wellness 12 conference experience on Wednesday morning by attending the opening session, “Top 10 Functional Food Trends 2012,” which will feature Liz Sloan, President, Sloan Trends Inc., and Contributing Editor, Food Technology magazine. She will share her expertise about and insights into the future of functional food developments and will preview the trends and supporting data from the 6th biannual Top 10 Functional Food Trends report that will appear in the April 2012 issue of Food Technology magazine. Two general sessions will follow. James Painter, Director of Nutrition Research, California Raisin Marketing Board, will provide insight into understanding the definitions of a healthy diet according to various countries and cultures in “International Comparison of Food-based Dietary Guidelines: The Nutritional Message Across Countries and Cultures.” Lu Ann Williams, Head of Research, Innova Market Insights, will moderate a panel of shoppers from the Chicago area in the second general session, “Boomers and Millennials: A Consumer Panel Across the Age Spectrum.” The panelists will speak about their shopping and dining experiences, particularly what influences their purchases.

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The closing general session on Thursday will discuss “What Consumers Around the World Will Want from Food Companies in 2020.” The presenters, Linda Eatherton, Partner and Director, Global Food & Nutrition Practice, Ketchum, and Christopher Wyse, Vice President of Communications, PepsiCo Americas Foods, will address the news that a survey of consumers in the United States, UK, Germany, Argentina, and China found that consumers will expect more from their food in 2020. More specifically, they will explain how product developers will need to address taste, quality, price, nutritional value, health benefits, and sourcing to meet the demands of consumers.

Breakout sessions organized into three tracks will be held on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning. Attendees will have a chance to customize their learning experience by choosing the sessions that best fit their professional needs.

• Consumer Lifestyles & Demographics. The sessions in this track will cover a range of consumer-related topics such as consumer attitudes toward healthful food products, health claims, halal and kosher product development, marketing protein-rich breakfasts, school feeding programs, and promoting wellness. On Wednesday, Kathy Hopkinson, Consumer Research Manager, ACCE, and Ann Manley, Senior Analyst, Innova Market Insights, will provide insight about the development of healthful foods and what drives consumers to purchase the products that they do in a two-part session, “Linking Nutrition, Health, and Wellness to Consumer Behavior.” The first part of the session will discuss the information that influences how consumers make food purchasing decisions and how this differs across the generations. In the second part, the presenters will focus on the top 10 global food and beverage trends and the products that are being developed around these trends.

On Thursday, experts will discuss the state of school feeding programs in “School Feeding Programs: Trends and Opportunities.” There is plenty of controversy surrounding the issue of what children should be fed in schools and how we should pay for it. Congress in November 2011 blocked rules proposed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture that USDA officials said would have helped to tackle childhood obesity by increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables served to students. Researchers debate whether small, incremental changes or entire overhauls of school feeding  programs are more effective. School districts say that budget cuts prevent them from implementing healthier school feeding programs. During the session, attendees will learn of the directions that can be taken to help ensure that children receive healthful meals at school.

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• Health Issues. There is increasing evidence of the health-promoting benefits of many foods and nutrients. This track includes a wide range of topics that discuss food and health topics such as obesity; dietary intervention; evidence-based nutrition; beans, pulses, and legumes; phytonutrients; and fats and oils. The highlights of this track include such sessions as “The Next Generation of Nutrition.” Join Williams of Innova Market Insights, and Ray Winger, Managing Director, Inside Foods Ltd., on Wednesday as they explain how “medical foods” and dietary intervention may help improve the health of people with medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. The rise of the number of Americans with diabetes and prediabetes (nearly 26 million with diabetes and an estimated 79 million with prediabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), and increasing attention to the risk factors for hypertension emphasize the importance of the food industry’s role in developing foods to meet the needs of consumers afflicted with these and other conditions. The speakers will also present information about this topic from a global perspective.

More and more, the foodservice industry has been blamed for contributing to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and other health issues by serving foods and beverages high in calories, fat, sugar, and sodium. Some contend that the foodservice industry needs to take a greater role in addressing this. In the Wednesday session on “Foodservice Responds to Global Nutrition Issues,” speakers Adam Drewnoski, Professor of Epidemiology and Adjunct Professor of Medicine, University of Washington, Brinda Govindarajan, Director, Global Science & Regulatory Affairs, McDonald’s, and Cathy Kapica, Senior Vice President, Ketchum, will present the foodservice industry’s position on the rising rates of obesity around the world and address concerns about the amounts of fat, sugar, and sodium in foodservice food.

• Weight Management. A study published in The Lancet in 2011 shows that worldwide BMI increased from 1980 to 2008. Throughout the year, other published studies and reports from government agencies show the increase in the numbers of overweight and obese individuals around the world. The sessions in this track will help attendees learn more about food marketing, the glycemic index, metabolism, the approach of behavioral innovation, and health insurance wellness programs. Consumer watchdog groups and other researchers have taken the food industry to task for how it markets its products. The Federal Trade Commission in April 2011 announced voluntary guidelines for marketing foods to children, although some argue that the guidelines are ineffective because they are voluntary. In the Wednesday session on “Changing the Food Marketing Environment through Policy and Standards,” learn how Elaine Kolish, Vice President, Council for Better Business Bureaus, Linda Meyers, Director, Food and Nutrition Board, and Robert Post, Deputy Director, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, and their organizations have undertaken initiatives to change the food marketing environment.

How to Register
To register or to obtain information on the Wellness 12 conference, visit www.ift.org/wellness. Conference registration includes jump drive with PDF files of session materials, continental breakfasts, lunch, networking breaks, and a reception. The registration fee of $895 for IFT members and $995 for non-members applies through March 1, 2012. After March 1, the fee increases to $995 for IFT members and $1,095 for non-members. The website also includes pricing for government workers and IFT student members as well as information about registering for the Pre-Wellness short course. For more information, visit www.ift.org/wellness, or see the Wellness 12 insert in this issue.

In This Article

  1. Food, Health and Nutrition