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Dis Manag. 2003 Winter;6(4):191-7.

Meals at medical specialty society annual meetings: a preliminary assessment.

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  • 1CHEF Clinic, Santa Barbara Institute for Medical Nutrition and Healthy Weight, PO Box 24039, Santa Barbara, CA 93121, USA.


Little isd known about how meals are chosen for medical meetings. We surveyed the annual meeting planners for 20 major specialty societies. Thirteen (65%) responded; all were currently planning their next meeting. Attendance in 2000 was reported at 113,477 physicians, with 2 million planned meals and snacks. No physician was named as responsible for food choices; the meeting planner and staff were primarily responsible for deciding what food to serve, excluding exhibit halls. Twelve (92%) respondents rated "available budget" as the most important factor. "Nutritional guidelines" were rated "very important" by eight of 13 (63%). However, no specific nutritional guidelines could be identified by any planner. All respondents indicated that members would attend a meeting if "healthy" food were the only option. For 2000, 100% of respondents indicated that for each lunch and for each dinner, a dessert had been included. No annual meeting and no planned 2001 meeting excluded potato chips, snack mixes, or candies at breaks; soda pop was offered at each break. Most respondents (89%) relied on a concluding questionnaire about the meeting facilities to evaluate the food. Respondents reported no difference in charges for "special meals," including vegetarian and kosher meals. Physicians may be unaware that some food served at medical meetings may impair learning, with excessive calorie, fat, and carbohydrate consumption. Small changes can improve the quality of food and beverages selected, without increased cost, and provide choices that conform to national nutritional guidelines. Medical meetings should serve flavorful, healthful food.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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