9th EFAD Conference

Following a successful participation to the 2014 EFAD Conference in Athens, the ISA took part in this year’s EFAD Conference, which was held on 23rd and 24th October in Amsterdam. This thought-provoking symposium, chaired by Dr Duane Mellor (University of Nottingham, UK) and entitled “Sweetness in everyday life: why low calorie sweeteners contribute to positive diet behaviour”,was held on Friday 23rd October, at 14.45 and gave the floor to a panel of international leading experts in the fields of psychology and nutrition.

  • Dr France Bellisle, from the Université Paris 13, France, looked at the human appetite for sweetness from early life to adulthood, food choices and weight management, addressing the scientific literature exploring appetite effects of low-energy sweeteners;
  • Dr Nicola Buckland, from the University of Leeds, UK, presented recent findings on diet-related food cues and how they can improve female dieters’ appetite control and food intake, with a focus on the implications for diet compliance and successful weight management ;
  • Sigrid Gibson, from Sig-Nurture Ltd. Guildford, UK, put into perspective recent research which looked at some aspects of diet quality in consumers of low calorie-sweetened beverages, in comparison to sugar-sweetened beverages.

Find out more about the speakers below. If you missed the symposium, read more from what was said during the session by reading the story here.

Dr Duane Mellor

Assistant Professor in Dietetics, University of Nottingham, UK

Duane Mellor moved to the University of Nottingham in 2013 where alongside teaching clinical dietetics he is responsible for placement quality. He was a member of Workpackage 7 of DIETS2 and has subsequently become a member of the Research and Evidence Based Practice Committee of EFAD and lead of the ESDN for Diabetes. He edits the nutrition section of Diapedia (an online text for diabetes) and was part of the Diabetes UK Nutrition Working Group which developed the current UK nutritional guidelines for diabetes. Duane graduated with his PhD from the University of Hull, his research focused on the effects of flavanol rich chocolate on cardiovascular risk in type 2 diabetes. He is interested in a variety of areas of nutrition and dietetic research and teaching especially around evidence based decision making.

Dr France Bellisle

Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle, University of Paris 13, France

After obtaining degrees in experimental psychology in Canadian and French universities, France has devoted her career to original research in the field of human ingestive behaviours. Her research interests include all types of determinants of food and fluid intake in human consumers, including psychological, sensory and metabolic factors as well as environmental influences. In particular, she has investigated the psycho-biological mechanisms of body weight control and the early life factors affecting obesity in children. France has published over 250 articles (original data and reviews) in international peer-reviewed journals and contributed to several books.


The Human Appetite for Sweetness from early life to adulthood, food choices and weight management Sweetness is a potent psychobiological stimulus for many animal species, including human consumers of all ages. Human newborns display an innate attraction to sweet substances, manifested by eager acceptance and a stereotyped gusto-facial reflex of relaxation and smile. Similar responses have been reported in human fetuses at the end of gestation, when taste receptors in the mouth become functional. As it does in other species, the appetite for sweetness spontaneously decreases during growth and human adults vary largely in their preferred intensity of sweetness in a broad range of beverages and foods [1]. The potent attraction of human consumers to sweet tasting substances is a strong determinant of food preferences and consumption [2]. It has been suggested that it may stimulate overeating and play a decisive role in weight gain over the long term. Indeed, since sugars bring 4 kcal per gram, the consumption of sugar-containing foods and beverages can contribute to an excessive energy intake that will induce weight gain. In order to allow consumers to enjoy the palatable sweet taste of many favorite foods and drinks without the energy load of sugar, various intense, low-energy sweetening agents have been developed. These substances have different chemo-physical structures but share a very high sweetening power compared to sugars, so that they are used in minute amounts to confer the desired level of sweetness to foods and drinks, while contributing very little or no energy at all to the final product. It has been suggested, however, that these products may enhance the natural appetite for sweetness and paradoxically stimulate the consumption of other sweet products. The present review will address the scientific literature exploring appetite effects of low-energy sweeteners. In particular, studies published in recent years showing how the use of low-energy sweeteners affects consumers’ appetite for all sweet tasting products will be presented. The conditions allowing a beneficial use of low-energy sweeteners in terms of body weight control, as revealed by the scientific literature over the past 30 years, will be discussed.


  1. Mennella, J.A. Ontogeny of taste preferences: basic biology and implications for health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2014; 99 (Suppl.): 704S-711S
  2. Bellisle, F. intense sweeteners, appetite for the sweet taste, and relationship to weight management. Current Obesity Reports. 2015; doi 10.1007/s13679-014-0133-8.

Further Reading

  • Article by Dr Bellisle on Intense Sweeteners, Appetite for the Sweet Taste, and Relationship to Weight Management, published in Current Obesity Reports – accessible by clicking here.
  • Unedited manuscript of the review by Prof Rogers on Does low-energy sweetener consumption affect energy intake and body weight? A systematic review, including meta-analyses, of the evidence from human and animal studies, published in International Journal of Obesity – accessible by clicking here.

Sigrid Gibson

Sig-Nurture Ltd. Guildford, UK

Sigrid Gibson is a Registered Nutritionist. After graduating from Cambridge University (Natural Sciences) she spent a year in Kenya with the MRC/Tropical Institute of the Netherlands conducting field studies in anthropometry and iron status before returning to study at the University of London (Human Nutrition). She joined the scientific civil service (Ministry of Food, working on dietary surveys, followed by posts at the Milk Marketing Board, and Leatherhead Food Research. For the past 20 years she has run her own consultancy, Sig-Nurture Ltd, which provides research and consultancy services in the area of nutrition and health. Clients include many of the major food and drink manufacturers as well as not-for-profit organisations, government departments and universities. Sigrid has published over 70 peer-reviewed research papers including systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Much of her work involves further analysis of UK data from the National Diet and Nutrition Survey or Health survey for England. Her special interests include dietary patterns and obesity, micronutrient intakes and status, and simple methods for screening for central obesity and its attendant health risks.

Dr Nicola Buckland

University of Leeds, UK

Dr Nicola Buckland is a Research Fellow in the School of Psychology, Faculty of Medicine and Health, University of Leeds, UK. Her research career started at the University of Sussex (BSc in Psychology) and she undertook research positions at Arizona State University’s Health and Ageing Laboratory and Conditioned Feeding Group. Nicola subsequently obtained her PhD from the University of Leeds, specialising in the assessment of human eating behaviour. Nicola’s research has examined how primes or prompts in the environment can facilitate dieters to control their food intake. Since completing her PhD, Nicola has been the Senior Researcher for a clinical weight loss trial in the Appetite Control and Energy Balance group, University of Leeds. Nicola’s research aims to identify effective strategies for appetite control and successful weight management and her research has been published in a number of peer-reviewed journals. Nicola is an advisor on the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behaviour New Investigator Board and is also a member of the Association for the Study of Obesity and the British Feeding and Drinking Group.


How diet-related food cues can improve female dieters’ appetite control and food intake: Implications for diet compliance and successful weight management

Restricting food intake is one of the most common approaches to managing weight. However, dietary restriction can often breakdown in the face of palatable and high energy dense foods. A recent goal priming theory for eating behaviour suggests that exposure to environmental cues that are associated with dieting can reinstate dieters’ long term weight management goals and improve self-control in tempting situations [1]. The current talk will present recent findings which have used i) consumer surveys to identify foods (and beverages) that dieters’ perceived to be most associated with dieting and; ii) used laboratory studies to explore the effects of exposure to diet-related food cues on female dieters’ appetite, snack and meal intake. Results from the laboratory studies showed that exposure to images (study 1), odours (study 2) and consumption (study 3) of diet-related foods reduced dieters’ subsequent snack and meal intake compared to exposure to control or tempting food cues. Of these studies, consumption of a diet-related food was most effective at improving dieters’ appetite control and reducing food intake. These studies provide evidence that increasing the presence and consumption of diet-related food cues can be an effective strategy to increase satiation and reduce short term food intake in dieters.


  • Stroebe, W., Aarts, H., Schut, H. & Kruglanski, A.W. (2008). Why dieters fail: testing the goal conflict model of eating. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 44, 26-36.

The 9th European Federation of the Associations of Dietitians (EFAD) conference, held in Amsterdam on 23rd and 24th October 2015, will see the launch of the “EFAD European Dietitians Action Plan”. This Plan is a call to action for European dietitians to really show what they are doing at all levels to meet the European nutrition and health agenda. The theme of the conference therefore is “Dietitians meeting the Food and Nutrition Action Plan” and it promises to be more popular, informative and stimulating than previous conferences. This year’s programme will give participants the opportunity to attend roundtables on Obesity, Diabetes, Older Adult, Cancer, Public Health and Food Service offering presentations and discussions by experts including: – Discussions about the essential work of dietitians in Education & LLL, Professional Practice and Research roundtables. – Short presentations of latest dietetic research – Student programme – supported by EFAD’s new European Network for Dietetic Students. For more information about this upcoming event, please visit the conference dedicated website by clicking here.