Dean’s Seminar Series: Integrated Nutrition Approach to Improving Personal, Population, and Planetary Health

February 17, 2020 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Peterson Hall 1912/1913

Speaker: Frank Hu, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.  Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology, Chair, Department of Nutrition
Director of Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center Epidemiology & Genetic Core
Co-Director, Program in Obesity Epidemiology and Prevention,  Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Abstract: The global chronic disease burden and the food production system’s enormous environmental impact are two pressing threats to personal, population and planetary health. Fortunately, dietary modifications can alleviate both of these threats. Healthful plant-based dietary patterns have been associated with lower risks of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Precision nutrition can provide insight into the mechanisms behind these associations by assessing individual characteristics such as the metabolome, genome and microbiome. While precision nutrition has future potential to provide personalized diets for disease prevention, the field is still developing and thus must be balanced with public health nutrition strategies. In addition to their health benefits, plant-based diets have less environmental impact than animal-based diets. Producing animal products, especially meat, is more energy-intensive than producing plant products. Shifting global dietary patterns towards diets higher in plant-based foods and lower in meat would likely have significant personal, population and planetary health benefits.

Bio: Dr. Hu also serves as Director, Boston Nutrition and Obesity Research Center Epidemiology and Genetics Core, a Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Dr. Hu is an epidemiologist and an expert in the areas of dietary and lifestyle determinants of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. He is the principal investigator for the diabetes component of the Nurses’ Health Study. Dr. Hu has served as an academic leader in a variety of roles, including on the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Obesity Guidelines Expert Panel and the IOM Committee on Preventing the Global Epidemic of Cardiovascular Disease.