ISA Conference 2014

“Why low calories count: the effective use of low calorie sweeteners in today’s diet and lifestyle choices”

On Wednesday 2nd April, the ISA hosted over 120 delegates at their scientific conference, “Why low calories count: the effective use of low calorie sweeteners in today’s diet and lifestyle choices”, in Brussels.

Uniting a world-class multidisciplinary group of experts including Dr Roberto Bertollini, chief scientist at the World Health Organisation, Professor James Hill and Professor Adam Drewnowski, the ISA conference was an opportunity for guest speakers to share their expertise on the latest innovations and research in the fields of obesity, physical activity, appetite and food choices. The conference addressed the role low calorie sweeteners can play in tackling the rising global obesity epidemic and the increase in type 2 diabetes by empowering consumers to make decisions that can improve their health and quality of life.


The conference was moderated by Jacki Davis, leading commentator and analyst on European Union affairs, and welcomed the following keynote speakers:

  • Dr Roberto Bertollini opened the conference by highlighting the reality of Europe’s health challenges providing some startling statistics and future trends for the global obesity rates.
  • Professor Anne Raben, human nutrition expert at the faculty of science of the University of Copenhagen, gave a keynote address looking at the role of low calorie sweeteners as an effective tool in weight management. Read more…
  • Professor Hely Tuorila, a sensory food science expert at the University of Helsinki, explained why we find it difficult to live without sweetness, highlighting that humans are born with an innate preference for sweet taste. Read more…
  • Professor Adam Drewnowski, a world-renowned leader in the prevention and treatment of obesity from the University of Washington presented his latest research looking at the importance of targeting micro-level geographical and societal data to understand more about the prevalence of obesity and diabetes in society, highlighting that users of low calorie sweeteners also eat a healthier, balanced diet and are more physically active. Read more…
  • Professor James Hill, US obesity expert and Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, presented his findings on effective methods for both losing weight and maintaining weight loss, emphasising that the key to better weight management is making small changes on a regular basis which can make a big impact over time. Read more…
  • Professor Eeva Widström, Chief Dental Officer at the National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, explained the importance of oral hygiene and the role of low calorie sweeteners in helping maintain oral health. Read more…
  • Professor Greg Whyte, former Olympian and world-renowned sports science expert at Liverpool John Moores University, UK, focused on how physical activity can help manage and prevent diabetes. Read more…
  • The afternoon panel session was moderated by Jacki Davis and included expert advice from Magali Jacobs, Dietician and Psychologist from the Institut Paul Lambin, Janette Marshall, Nutrition and Health Journalist, and Dr Nick Southgate, Behavioural Psychologist, focusing on how to communicate on the science about low calorie sweeteners.


Why low calories count: the effective use of low calorie sweeteners in today’s diet and lifestyle choices

This leading one-day conference will provide a unique opportunity to hear about the latest innovations and research in the fields of obesity, physical activity, appetite and satiety, and the role of low calorie sweeteners in the diet.

Attendees will have the chance to engage with and learn from leading scientists and advisors in health and to network with international delegates from academia, nutrition, policy and civil society. Our international panel of experts will address key topics and issues ranging from why we can’t live without sweetness, low calorie food options in the management of preventative health and lifestyle influences in consumption behaviour. Special guests include:

  • Prof Dr Adam Drewnowski, world-renowned leader in the prevention and treatment of obesity, Professor of Epidemiology and Director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition, University of Washington
  • Prof Greg Whyte OBE former Olympic athlete and physical activity expert
  • Prof James Hill, US obesity expert and Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine, University of Colorado School of Medicine
  • Moderated by Jacki Davis, leading commentator and analyst on European Union affairs


Registrations closed.


The ISA is delighted to announce its media partnership with two important media: EU Food Policy, a Brussels’ based publication specialising in EU Scientific & Regulatory Affairs, and an important source of information for food industry leaders and regulators; and Food & Drink Business Europe, a business magazine for the food and drink processing industries in the UK and Europe, which is read by the key decision makers in food and drink manufacturing companies throughout Europe and by buyers in the major retailers and food service operators.

  • 09.00-09.30: Registration and coffee
    Networking and opportunity to showcase low calorie foods, drinks and sweeteners in reception area
  • 09.30-09.35: Moderator’s introduction
    Jacki Davis
  • 09.35-09.45: ISA Chairwoman’s introduction
    Prof Colette Shortt – Brief overview of the ISA and welcome
  • 09.45-10.05: Special guest speaker
    Dr Roberto Bertollini, World Health Organization (WHO) – Special guest address
  • 10.05-10.25: Keynote address: Making low calories count
    Prof Anne Birgitte Raben, University of Copenhagen, Denmark – Latest science pertaining to low calorie foods, beverages and sweeteners and their role in weight management.
  • 10.30-11.00: Coffee break
    In reception area
  • 11.00-11.35: Why can’t we live without sweetness?
    Prof Hely Tuorila, University of Helsinki, Finland – Are we programmed to give into our cravings for sweet foods? Expert discussion on the sensory and psychological experience of foods and tastes.
  • 11.35-12.20: Dietary habits and the use of low calorie sweeteners: an effective tool in the prevention of obesity and diabetes
    Prof Dr Adam Drewnowski, University of Washington, US – Prof Drewnowski will present his latest research on the effects of low calorie sweeteners on the brain and appetite regulation, and the correlation between the consumption of low calorie sweeteners and better health behaviours.
  • 12.30-13.30: Lunch
    In reception area
  • 13.30-14.15: Can a 100 calories/day make a meaningful difference for weight control?
    Prof James Hill, University of Colorado, US – The evidence that ‘small changes’ is a practical and effective approach to weight management – both losing weight and maintaining weight loss.
  • 14.15-14.50: Adding sweetness to everyday lives
    Prof Eeva Widström, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland – How low calorie sweeteners are a good alternative to sugar in every day eating to help maintain oral health which latest research links to overall systemic health e.g. cardiovascular disease, inflammatory disorders.
  • 14.50-15.15: Real life story: Tackling diabetes through physical activity
    Prof Greg Whyte, Liverpool John Moores University, UK – How physical activity can help manage and prevent diabetes based on the case study of Gary Mabbutt, former England international footballer who has type 1 diabetes.
  • 15.15-15.45: Coffee break
    In reception area
  • 15.45-16.45: Food and behaviour: who influences what we eat?
    Jacki Davis to facilitate
    – Panellists include:
    – Janette Marshall, Food and Health Journalist, UK
    – Magali Jacobs, Dietician and Psychologist, Institut Paul Lambin, Belgium
    – Dr Nick Southgate, Nick Southgate Consultancy Ltd, UK
    Moderated panel session, framed around questions on communication of science and low calorie sweeteners.
  • 16.45-16.55: Closing remarks
    Frances Hunt, ISA Secretary General
  • 16.55-17.00: Moderator closes conference

Dr Roberto Bertollini, M.D., M.P.H., is, since October 2011, World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to the European Union in Brussels and Chief Scientist of the WHO Regional Office for Europe. Dr Bertollini has held various positions at WHO, and earlier in his career he was Director of the Rome Division of the WHO European Centre for Environment and Health since 1993. Before joining WHO he worked at the Epidemiology Unit of the Lazio Region of Italy. During his professional experience he has carried out missions in several European and African countries, supporting the implementation of health cooperation projects. Dr Bertollini holds a degree in medicine and a postgraduate degree in paediatrics, as well as a Master in Public Health which he obtained from the Johns Hopkins University in 1983. His main professional interests concern the environmental influences on health, with special reference to the effects of emerging threats such as climate change, health effects of lifestyle and socioeconomic determinants including tobacco, alcohol and nutrition, the use of epidemiology for public health policy development and evaluation of public health programmes and practices. Dr Bertollini has written many scientific articles, book chapters, has given interviews and participated to various TV and Radio Broadcasts related to Public Health issues both in Italian and International networks.

Jacki Davis is an experienced journalist, speaker and moderator of high-level events both in Brussels and in EU national capitals, the editor of many publications, a regular broadcaster on television and radio news programmes, and a Senior Adviser to the European Policy Centre think tank. Jacki has been based in Brussels for 22 years, and was previously Communications Director of the European Policy Centre; editor-in-chief of E!Sharp, a magazine on the EU launched in 2001; and launch editor of European Voice, a Brussels-based weekly newspaper on EU affairs owned by The Economist Group, from 1995-2000.

Professor Dr Adam Drewnowski is a world-renowned leader in the prevention and treatment of obesity. He is Professor of Epidemiology and the Director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the School of Public Health. He is also the Director of the University of Washington Center for Obesity Research. Professor Drewnowski obtained his MA degree in biochemistry at Balliol College, Oxford, and a PhD degree in psychology at The Rockefeller University in New York.

Professor Drewnowski is the inventor of the Nutrient Rich Foods Index, which rates individual foods based on their overall nutritional value, and the Affordable Nutrition Index, which helps consumers identify affordable healthy foods. He has conducted extensive studies on taste function and food preferences, exploring the role of fat, sugar, and salt on food preferences and food cravings.

Professor Drewnowski is the 2012 winner of the Prix Benjamin Delessert and a member of the Standing Committee to Prevent Childhood Obesity of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of over 200 research papers, numerous reviews and book chapters.

Professor James O. Hill, Ph.D. is the Founding Executive Director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. He also holds the Anschutz Endowed Chair in Health and Wellness. He is Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine. He holds a B.S. degree from the University of Tennessee and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of New Hampshire in Physiological Psychology. He served as Chair of the first World Health Organization Consultation on Obesity in 1997. He was President of The Obesity Society (TOS) 1997-8 and President of the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) 2008-9. He was a member of the NIH Expert Panel on Obesity that developed first U.S guidelines for the treatment and prevention of obesity.

Professor Hill has published more than 500 scientific articles and book chapters. Many of these focus on the importance of healthy eating and physical activity in weight management. He is the recipient of the 2007 TOPS award and the 2012 George Bray Founders Award from TOS. He has received the Centrum Center, McCollum and Kritchevsky awards from the ASN. He is the 2012 Atwater Lecturer for the US Department of Agriculture.

Professor Hill is a cofounder of the National Weight Control Registry, a registry of individuals who have been successful in maintenance of a reduced body weight. He is co-founder of America on the Move, a national weight gain prevention initiative that aims to inspire Americans to make small changes in how much they eat and how much they move to prevent weight gain. He is the author of the Step Diet Book, published in June 2004 and the State of Slim published in August 2013. He lectures widely throughout the world on obesity, health and wellness. His current work focuses on developing science-based strategies to reduce obesity rates.

Magali Jacobs is a dietician and psychologist at the Institut Paul Lambin in Belgium. She received her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from the Institut Paul Lambin, and her masters in psychological studies from the Université Catholique de Louvain. For her dissertation, she focused on the utility of a sensory approach for the management of overweight. In her capacity as a lecturer at the Institut Paul Lambin, Magali focuses on food choices and explaining the nutritional advantages or disadvantages of different food products to patients. Previously, Magali used to work as a Regulatory Affairs Officer, Firmenich, an international producer of perfumery and flavour chemicals. In this role, she organised taste workshops and worked on determining products’ flavouring and how the products were labelled for customers.

Janette Marshall is an editor and author specialising in food and health. She trained as a journalist on regional newspapers and has a degree in English from London Univeristy. Janette has written healthy eating books based on WHO and government reports and books to accompany BBC TV series from Food and Drink to Fighting Fat Fighting Fit and Fat Nation. She has edited Slimming World and other magazines such as Healthy, Tesco Healthy Living,  and Your Week for Weight Watchers, and was deputy editor at the launch of BBC Good Food and Delicious. Janette contributes health and cookery features to national newspapers and magazines and is a former Secretary of both the Guild of Health Writers and the Guild of Food Writers. She is an international chocolate judge,  a very keen cook and proud of the prizes she has won with her marmalade recipes!

Anne Raben is Ph.D. in Human Nutrition, and Professor at the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the faculty of Science of the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Anne Raben has more than 20 years of research experience within prevention and treatment of obesity and related diseases, especially diabetes. Her main focus has been on dietary and drug-induced changes in body weight, appetite regulation, energy expenditure, metabolic parameters and risk markers. Within the diet-related aspects, carbohydrates have constituted a main focus area for Professor Raben, including the importance of sugar and artificial sweeteners on appetite regulation, body weight, glycemia, insulinemia, lipidimia and other related risk markers.

In January 2013, Anne Raben started as project coordinator of a large multinational EU project called “PREVIEW” (2013 – 2017), Prevention of Diabetes through lifestyle intervention and populations studies in Europe and around the world. This project involves a total of 15 partners, 12 from Europe and 3 from overseas countries. The main goal of the PREVIEW project is to identify the most efficient lifestyle pattern for the prevention of Type 2 diabetes in a population of pre-diabetic overweight or obese individuals.

Prof Colette Shortt, Chair of the International Sweeteners Association, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and the Association for Nutrition and a Member of the Nutrition Society. She graduated from the National University of Ireland, Cork (MSc and PhD, Nutrition) and Surrey European Management School (MBA). Following nutrition research at the Rowett Research Institute she joined SmithKline Beecham as a research nutritionist and subsequently held posts with Yakult before joining McNeil Nutritionals Ltd. She is currently a Regulatory Affairs Director for Johnson & Johnson Global Franchise Organisation (Nutritionals). Colette is a Visiting Professor to the University of Ulster and a Board Member of the International Life Science Institute Europe.

Dr Nick Southgate, Chief Applied Behavioural Thinker, Nick Southgate Consultancy Ltd, is one of the leading practitioners in the emerging field of applied behavioural thinking. He looks to use the insights and understanding being gained in behavioural sciences in combination with the creative and communication expertise of a marketer and advertising thinker. Nick is currently the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising’s Behavioural Economics Consultant. This role was created in 2009 to embed the insights of Behavioural Economics in the UK advertising industry. This year he has worked with the IPA’s Healthcare Group to explore how creative thinking can change the way people look after their own health and adhere to medical treatments.

Outside of the IPA Nick has worked on Behavioural Projects with Boots, Kraft, GSK, Aegon, The City of London, Hiscox, Drinkaware, The Alcohol Academy and others. He has also run training sessions for clients, advertising agencies, and market research agencies and collaborates with #ogilvychange, the first dedicated behaviour change unit within a global advertising agency. He chaired the Market Research Society’s Conference Session on Behavioural Economics in 2011 for which he was nominated for Best Contribution to Conference and chaired interviews between Rory Sutherland and two of Behavioural Economics founding fathers, Prof Daniel Kahneman (2002 Nobel Winner) and Prof Richard Thaler, author of Nudge.

Professor Hely Tuorila holds a chair of sensory food science at the University of Helsinki, Finland, where she also has received MSc and PhD degrees in nutrition. Her lasting scientific interest has been in the role of sensory, hedonic, and cognitive factors in food choice, and the interplay between these. She has supervised many theses around these topics. During her post-doctoral and sabbatical visits at the University of California, Davis (1986-87), US Army Natick laboratories, Natick, Massachusetts (1993 and later) and the University of Florence, Italy (2008), she worked on consumer responses to nutritionally modified and unfamiliar foods. Lately, she has also been active in research on children’s responses to food. Since 2003, Hely has collaborated with Finnish medical researchers on genetics of chemosensory perception and preferences, and supervised with these colleagues three PhD theses on genetics of food perceptions.

With her colleagues and graduate students, Hely has published about 150 refereed papers and book chapters, 3 textbooks (in Finnish), and a large number of science popularization articles. She belongs to the editorial boards of journals Food Quality and Preference, Journal of Sensory Studies, Food Science and Technology (LWT), and Chemosensory Perception. She is also a long-term member of the editorial board of science dissemination newsletter Food Today (EUFIC). She belongs to the executive committee of the leading global conference series Pangborn Sensory Science Symposia. In 2013, she received the Elsevier FQP Established Researcher Award which is a recognition granted to a prominent sensory-consumer researcher every second year.

Along with scientific efforts, Hely considers the education of the new generation – teaching and supervision – as an extremely important and rewarding aspect of her work.

Greg Whyte is an Olympian, ‘physical activity guru’ and world-renowned sports scientist, Greg Whyte is a Professor in Applied Sport & Exercise Science at Liverpool John Moores University and a UK authority on Exercise Physiology, Sports Performance & Rehabilitation which includes having extensive professional experience assessing, treating & improving the performance of athletes & sporting enthusiasts ranging from celebrities attempting their first mountain summit to Gold medal seeking Olympians.

Greg is an Olympian in modern pentathlon, a sport in which he has also won European bronze and World Championship silver medals. He studied for his BSc (Hons) at Brunel University, completed his MSc in human performance at Frostburg State University in the USA, and completed his PhD at St. Georges Hospital Medical School and the University of Wolverhampton, where he was research co-ordinator. Greg is a Fellow of the British Association of Sport and Exercise Science (FBASES) and the American College of Sports Medicine (FACSM) and was the Chairman of the charity Cardiac Risk in the Young (CRY) from 1999-2009.

Dr Eeva Widström DDS (Ph.D), MSc (soc.sci), specialist in Clinical Dentistry, has been Professor in Dental Public Health at the Arctic University of Tromso since 2005 and works part time in Norway. She has another position in Finland as Chief Dental Officer at the National Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, acting as a professional advisor on matters concerning dentistry and dental services. Her past experience includes clinical work as a dentist, leading positions in the Public Dental Service, and teaching at various departments at dental schools in Finland and in Sweden.

Her research field covers a wide range of themes derived from contemporary societal needs including epidemiological studies, health services research, evaluation of oral healthcare provision systems and health economics. She has published a large number of articles in scientific journals, reports and book chapters. Dr Widström is the former President of the European Association of Dental Public Health and the Council of European Chief Dental Officers. In 2012 she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at the Ovidius University of Constanta in Romania.


Special guest speaker
Dr Roberto Bertollini, World Health Organization

Keynote address: Making low calorie count
Prof Anne Birgitte Raben, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

Why can’t we live without sweetness?
Prof Hely Tuorila, University of Helsinki, Finland

Can a 100 calories/day make a meaningful difference for weight control?
Prof James Hill, University of Colorado, US

Real life story: Tackling diabetes through physical activity
Prof Greg Whyte, Liverpool John Moores University, UK