By: Rachel Coury
Last Saturday our internship class had the opportunity to attend the District of Columbia Metro Area Dietetic Association Annual Meeting. It was the first professional conference for many of us and at the end of the day we all agreed that professional meetings were not only educational but also a lot of fun! We were able to practice our networking skills by meeting many new local dietitians and catching-up with previous preceptors and other area interns.
The theme of this year's meeting was "The Role of the Licensed Nutrition Expert: More Important Than Ever." We were able to listen to talks on many cutting-edge issues, such as nutrigenomics. We learned that researchers were studying the effect of individuals' chemical makeup on their varying responses to food and drugs. For example, researchers found that women tend to absorb calcium better from food sources while men on average are able to tolerate calcium in the form of supplements better. Another "hot button" issue that was discussed was sustainability. To my surprise, we learned that there is no uniform definition of "locally grown." It can refer to anything that was produced in a 20 mile radius, same state, or even same territory depending on the store. Mary Lee Chin of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association shared with us that by the year 2050 our population is projected to reach 9 billion and in order to support this growing population we will need a 70% increase in food production.
We were also able to learn about some of America's food trends that were derived from the NHANES national food survey "What We Eat in America." According to the survey, in 2007-2008 the mean caloric intake was 2700 kcals for individuals over 2, which is a 200 kcal per day increase from the late 1970s. American's increase in consumption of pizza, sugary drinks, and snacks were also discussed during the presentation.
All in all, professional conferences aren't nearly as scary or intimidating as I thought they would be. DCMADA was both informative and fun! It provided a great chance to network with area dietitians and learn about the new research being conducted in our field. I now find myself excitedly awaiting my next conference opportunity, FNCE anyone?