37th Annual Thomas Francis, Jr. Memorial Lecture

This Tuesday, February 26 will mark the 37th Annual Thomas Francis Jr. Memorial Lecture. This year’s honorable guest speaker is Dr. Walter C. Willett, who will speak on the topic of “Diet and Health: A Progress Report” at 3PM in the School of Public Health Building II, Auditorium M1020 (map) with a reception to follow. willett

Dr. Willett is a Fredrick John Stare Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition and the Chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Willett has focused much of his work over the last 30 years on the development of methods, using both questionnaire and biochemical approaches, to study the effects of diet on the occurrence of major diseases. He has applied these methods starting in 1980 in the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Dr. Willett is the most cited nutritionist internationally, and is among the five most cited persons in all fields of clinical science. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the recipient of many national and international awards for his research.

By: Hryck

By: Hryck

Summary of Talk:

For much of the last 25 years the focus of nutritional advice has been to reduce total fat intake and consume large amounts of carbohydrate.  However, this advice was inconsistent with many lines of evidence indicating that unsaturated fats have beneficial metabolic effects and reduce risk of coronary heart disease.  More recent evidence has also shown that the large majority of carbohydrates in current industrial diets, consisting of refined starches and sugar, have adverse metabolic effects and increase risks of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.  Also, red meat consumption is associated with increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and total mortality, and replacement of red meat with nuts and legumes is strongly associated with lower risk of these outcomes.    Thus, in an optimal diet, most calories would come from a balance of whole grains and plant oils, and proteins would be provided by a mix of nuts, beans, fish, eggs, and poultry.   Higher intake of fruits and vegetables (not including potatoes) is associated with lower risks of cardiovascular disease, although the benefits for cancer prevention appear to be less than anticipated.   A shift from the current US diet to a more optimal way of eating would have a profoundly beneficial effect on health and wellbeing of Americans. 

For more information on this event, please contact: Stacy Babcock at babcockk@umich.edu

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