Thursday, October 11, 2007

CIA & Harvard News: Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Live

Harvard Medical School (HMS) and The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) co-hosted their pioneering initiative Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives: A Leadership Conference Bridging Nutrition Science, Health Care, and the Culinary Arts this weekend at the CIA's Greystone campus in Napa Valley, CA. At this unique, semi-annual gathering, health professionals from around the country participated in seminars led by Harvard scientists and in hands-on cooking workshops led by CIA chef-instructors as they explored the delicious possibilities of healthful food and its preparation.

Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives, a novel collaboration between two leading educational institutions, is designed to provide the hundreds of health care professionals attending the sold-out conference with the latest scientific findings about diet and nutrition combined with practical, healthful cooking skills, ideas and inspiration. The goal of Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives is for attendees to take what they have learned at the conference and incorporate it into their own lives, enabling them to become role models and teachers for their patients, clients and healthcare organizations.

The first Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives conference last April has already begun to spread the seeds of change: hospitals initiating courses on cooking, nutrition, and health for their physicians and facility directors; universities using conference information as a framework for studies on prevention and treatment of diabetes; physicians cooking more nutritionally for themselves and passing this inspiration on to their patients; and dietitians for major managed healthcare organizations teaching families with genetically high cholesterol how to decrease their risk for early heart disease by learning to prepare simple, nutritious and delicious meals at home.

In the battle against obesity and other lifestyle-linked diseases—and with estimates that healthier food choices could save Americans $90 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity1—the stakes are high to spawn a movement within the medical community that puts physicians and other healthcare professionals in a better position to encourage healthier food choices and lifestyles among their patients, the broader healthcare community, and the media.

"What if physicians and other medical professionals acquired the necessary skills to model healthy eating behaviors themselves and passed these skills on to their patients?" asked David M. Eisenberg, MD, Bernard Osher Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School and co-director of the conference. "Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives intends to inform and inspire this and the next generation of medical professionals and food industry leaders by giving them the tools to serve as role models for change when it comes to healthy eating."

In plenary and break-out sessions, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health faculty members present the "state of the science" in nutrition and health research. During kitchen sessions, CIA chef-instructors teach health care professionals how to use simple techniques from Mediterranean, Asian and Latin cuisines—along with other flavor strategies—to increase the appeal of meals primarily based on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and healthy oils and proteins. Meals throughout the conference reflect recipes, cooking techniques and nutritional concepts demonstrated over four days.

This unique synergy of scientist and culinarian is at the core of the sessions, including Childhood Obesity and Strategies for Prevention and Treatment; Plant-based Foods, Longevity, and Prevention of Chronic Disease; Eating Well on a Budget; and Mindfulness in Diet, Exercise and Life. Hands-on kitchen workshops include Vegetables: Inspiration from World's Cuisines; Cool Salads and Creative Dressings; Protein Strategies: Fish, Chicken and Tofu Cooking Made Easy; and The Dessert "Flip" and Other Seductive Ideas.

An important thread throughout the conference was the crisis of obesity in America, including the epidemic of childhood obesity. "The obesity challenge is too complex for either food professionals or the medical community to solve on their own," said Mark Erickson, C.M.C., Vice President of Continuing Education for the CIA, and co-chair of Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives. "It's going to take working together to effect essential change in one of the most pressing health issues of our times."

The next Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives leadership conference will be held April 10-13, 2008, at the CIA's Greystone campus. For complete information about this educational initiative, including a list of companies supporting the conference with academic grants or participating as exhibitors, visit

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