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Study Roasts Medical Meeting Menus

Finds most planners feed physicians sweet, rich, fatty foods at these gatherings

FRIDAY, Jan. 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- When it comes to medical meetings, doctors don't have to eat their words.

An American study in the current issue of Disease Management found the food served to and eaten by doctors at their conferences doesn't reflect their leadership role in teaching patients about good nutrition and may actually impair the doctors' performance at the meetings.

The research team was led by Dr. John La Puma of the Santa Barbara Institute for Medical Nutrition and Healthy Weight.

The researchers interviewed people planning annual meetings in 2000 for 13 major medical professional societies. The meetings included more than 250,000 doctors and more than 2 million meals and snacks.

While 61.5 percent of the meal planners rated nutritional guidelines as "very important," the meals failed to reflect that. The food served at the 13 meetings was rich, sweet and high in calories. Desserts were served at every lunch, and dinner and soda pop was offered at every snack break.

None of the meal planners identified any specific nutritional guidelines and no doctors were involved with the planning of any of the menus. None of the meetings included a planned vegetarian meal, and they all included potato chips, snack mixes or candies during breaks.

"The food served to and consumed by physicians at medical meetings does not appear to meet current nutritional guidelines. We believe that food at medical meetings should be delicious and special, but that special can mean something other than highly caloric and sedating meals," the study authors write.

They offer the following suggestions for improving menus at medical meetings:

  • Substitute fish for red meat as an entree.
  • Offer olive oil on the table instead of butter.
  • Eliminate sugared soda and energy drinks.
  • Eliminate deep fried foods, especially those fried in hydrogenated oils, which contain trans fats.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about healthy eating.

SOURCE: Santa Barbara Institute for Medical Nutrition and Healthy Weight, news release, Jan. 3, 2004
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