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The Conference Outline by Dr. Connie Lambrou-Phillipson, Chair of the Programme Committee


Once again we have come to the end of our Conference, and I wish to thank all those who participated in the exchange of ideas, information, and special insights each one of them brings to the subject of their work and their research.


For three days we embarked on a quest to learn from others, listen to their thoughts,  try to grasp their preoccupations, understand their problems, scrutinize their work, criticize it if we have to, but in the end we try to enable ourselves to help others in the best way we can. We cannot all share the same point of view, but we can all share the willingness to help.  


In this second Conference of the Series, we’ve had 180 registered participants  who came from 13 countries and in the Conference Programme we have had included 48 oral and 15 poster presentations.


In the First Session and in the Introductory Keynote Speech Prof. Antonia Trichopoulou discussed the current status and problems of the link between the Mediterranean diet and health, pointing out among other things that the Mediet differs from prudent diets in mainly two aspects, namely in stressing the pattern rather than individual components of the diet, and the lack of restriction on lipid intake.


In the keynote speech, Dr Connie Phillipson compared our diet to these of our ancestors and found theirs better in almost every aspect of nutrition. What else would you expect from a hardnose paleonutritionist?


In the Second Session concerned with the Evolution of the Mediterranean Diet and our experience from other diets, Ms Akistis Pallidou, examined the dietary changes in Greece as depicted through the early cookbooks and came to the conclusion that they were not representative of the Greek diet but rather west-inspired for those who could read.  Prof. Yannis Sotiropoulos, reported on a study of the evolution of the dietary model in Greece, during the post-World War II period. Then Prof. Sandro Darnini, expanded on The Barcelona Process and its importance for the preservation of our food-culture heritage from increasing erosion. Something that would please the spirit of the late Prof. Massimo Cresta, an ardent supporter of the Mediterranean food culture. Ms Eleni Oikonomou, reported on a study to identify the dietary patterns in four Mediterranean EU member states, and to monitor the changes that have occurred between the years 1980 and 2000. Dr Aicha Lemtouni, detailed her researches concerning the reasons and roles of the transition from a traditional to a modern diet in a Moroccan context. And Dr Erica Acs talked to us about the facilities and methods used by her organization to develop dietetic foods of low protein and low carbohydrate content for diabetic patients, with particular attention to no-gluten or low-gluten foods.


In the Third Session Prof. Elliot Berry, gave the keynote speech on the Positive Deviance in Lifestyle Management, or how to change undeviating monolithic medical practices, by studying successfully deviate members of your community. I have no doubt about the success of the venture. Under Professor Berry’s management, who would refuse to be a deviant? Dr Eleni Linos, discussed the teenager’s Mediterranean diet, and the imaginative and innovative ways and means that may be used, to promote and establish healthy eating habits from an early age. Mr Antonis Panayiotopoulos, discussed a cultural and intercultural intervention for the re-orientation of professional cooking in Crete, and the shift of the alimentary habits of young people towards a Mediterranean lifestyle. Prof. Sofronios Papoutsoglou, discussed seafood consumption in the context of the Mediterranean Diet and not only. While Ms Sophie Tessier, reported on a comparison of the Mediterranean diets of the islands of Sardinia and Malta, detailing the fact that eating habits may be as important as food choices. Finally Prof. Eugenio Luigi Iorio, not only provided a history of pizza, useful distinctions between different kinds, but also ably defended the much maligned fast food with scientific thoroughness and Neapolitan gusto.


In the afternoon of the first day a roundtable discussion took place on the Mediterranean Diet in Contemporary Cuisine, featuring some of Greece’s best known chefs and gastronomes, like Elias Mamalakis, Othonas Hristoulakis, Timos Petridis, Tasos Tolis, Kostas Touloumzis, a sommelier, not a chef as he pointed out, and Hristoforos Peskias. The discussion got sizzling hot for a while, but stopped short of involuntary homicide.


In the Fourth Session on the Mediterranean Diet and Chronic Degenerative Disease, Prof. Dean Kromhout, well known for his association with Ancel Keys and the Seven Countries Study, discussed the results of the pilot study on the Alpha Omega Trial. Prof. Elias Castanas, explained the role of the phenolic acids, polyphenolic compounds, and other substances found in mechanically extracted olive oil, towards the prevention of cancer. Prof. Sanchez-Villegas Almudena presented the results of a study on the Mediterranean dietary pattern and the changes in weight and body mass index, in the by now well-known SUN Study. Dr Despina Varakla, discussed the Mediterranean Diet for its role in the prevention and management of diabetes. And Dr Niva Shapira, discussed the “Israeli Gender Paradox” where Israeli women appear to exhibit higher mortality risks than men, attributed to a high consumption of omega-6 oils. I think I will urge all my female Israeli friends to move to Greece.


In the Fifth Session, on the Mediterranean Diet and Current Research, the keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Luis Serra Majem, who presented a systematic review of 35 experimental studies, analyzed for the effect of the Mediterranean Diet on lipoproteins, endothelial resistance, diabetes, antioxidative capacity, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer, etc. Then, Dr Petrohilou explained the European Union’s 6th Framework Program, the present major research funding mechanism in Europe, detailing the major topics, deadlines, and various support networks for researchers. Prof. Paraskevi Moutsatsou, detailed the results of a study of Greek plant extracts, which appear to demonstrate a selective modulation of estrogen receptors, and likely to be useful as alternatives to hormone replacement therapy during menopause. Ms Artemisia-Phoebe Nifli, explained the bioavailability of phenolic quercetin in breast and hepatocellular cancer cells, and the mechanisms of quercetin actions. Dr. Brian Buijsse, scrutinized another aspect of the now famous Seven Countries Study, by examining the plasma carotenoids of men at, or above the age of 80, in Crete and Zutphen, Holland and Dr Matina Chronopoulou examined the use of olive leaf extract in naturopathic medicine.


In the Sixth Session, a continuation of the previous topic of the Mediterranean Diet and Current Research, Prof. Miguel Angel Martinez-Gonzalez, presented the results of the Predimed Trial, a pilot study of the role of the Mediterranean diet in primary cardiovascular prevention in diabetic patients and others with major cardiovascular risk factors. Dr Stavroula Soukara outlined the nutritional value and the flavonoid content of the Mediterranean Diet in Greece. Dr. Yiorgos Kotseridis, discussed the occurrence of ochratoxin, a known carcinogenic agent, in grapes and wines. Dr Theodora Psaltopoulou, reported on a study of the role of olive oil and of the Mediterranean diet, on the arterial blood pressure in the context of the EPIC study. While Dr Tzortzis Nomikos, discussed the results of a trial on the effects of Mediterranean diet wild green plants on the postprandial platelet activity of patients with the Metabolic Syndrome.


On the afternoon of the second day, the second roundtable discussion took place on the Marketing of Mediterranean Diet Foods and Beverages, with Paraskevas Tokouzbalides, Yiannis Bouras, Vasilis Argyrakis, Denny Kallivoca, and Alkiviades Kalabokis, as representatives of the food industry, the trade press, exporters’ associations, and relevant private organizations.


In the Seventh Session on Olive Oil and Health, the keynote speech was delivered by Prof. Denis Lairon, who examined the dietary fiber intake and the risk factors for cardiovascular disease in a French adult population. Dr Paraskevas Tokousbalides, discussed the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and the advantageous ratio of these fatty acids in olive oil, an example of the benefits of liquid gold, as olive oil has been described. Prof. Maria Tsimidou, discussed the Mediterranean diet, from the viewpoint of the functional lipids in olive oil. Prof. Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez  discussed the results of the SUN prospective cohort study, on olive oil consumption and weight change. Prof. Ephrosyne Rizopoulou-Egoumenidou, discussed the olive and olive oil in the traditional life of the Island of Cyprus and Dr Aris Xenakis, explained the enzymatic oxidation of the polyphenols contained in olive oil, with emphasis on the case of Oleuropein.


In the Eighth Session, which was a continuation of the previous one, Mr. Efstathios Anastassopoulos, presented the results of his research regarding the flavor, color, liquidity and taste of Messinian olive oil, an area of southwest Peloponnese long renowned for the quality of its oil. Dr Haralambos Karantonis, discussed the effects of lipids from a quick and casual Mediterranean-type of diet on cardiovascular disease, and the implications for the role of the Platelet Activating Factor. Dr Apostolos Kiritsakis told us of the composition of olive oil and its impact as a basic constituent of the Mediterranean diet. And Dr. Lalas, discussed the quality changes that take place in olive oil and other selected vegetable oils during frying.


In the Ninth Session on Traditional Products, Prof. Georgios Blekas, examined the antioxidant phytochemicals of table olives, in the three traditional preparations: Spanish-style green olives in brine; Greek-style black olives in brine; and California-style black ripe olives in brine. I must confess that until I heard this paper, I thought of California olives as raw-green rather than ripe-black. Prof. Yasemin Beyhan, examined a new trend in traditional foods, and namely, the causes underlying the popularity of “simit cafes” in Ankara, Turkey, and their evaluation from a nutritional perspective. Simit I take it, is the word for what we Greeks call koulouri, a round sesame covered bun. Dr Theophilos Massouras explained the evolution of the cholesterol content of milk fat during the cheese-making process. Dr. Irene Anastasaki, discussed a study of the physicochemical composition and nutrient profile of the traditional Graviera cheese of Paros Island, in the Cyclades.  Dr Theofilos Massouras, presented a study of the physicochemical composition and nutrient profile of the traditional Arseniko cheese, of Naxos Island, the Cyclades and Dr Stavroula Skoulika, examined the research initiatives aiming at quality improvement and industrialization of Greek traditional foods.


The third roundtable discussion on Organic Products in the Mediterranean Diet took place in the afternoon of the third day of the conference. The roundtablers, if I may be allowed to coin one more compound word (If Aeschylus could do it, why couldn’t I?) were Andreas Loukakis, Dr. Maria Trivela, Panos Hatziotis,P. Papadopoulos, Panayiotis Athanasopoulos, and Nikos Psyllakis.


Let us hope that all this wonderful accumulated knowledge and experience about the contents and potential benefits of our foods can somehow pass to those who needed most; and this will certainly make our work more meaningful.


We hope to see you all again in two years for the third MEDIET International Conference that will be held between 25-26 April 2007.



Last update: 25 August 2005

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