Just over 500 registrants gathered in Zhengzhou, China for the 3rd Asia-Pacific Grains Conference. The Whole Grain Initiative was well represented with both Jan Willem van der Kamp and Sara Grafenauer presenting in the opening session. Jan Willem presented online and gave an excellent overview, emphasising the new definition as there is interest in China regarding regulation and Sara presented the nutrition economics work from Australia, the US and Finland, showing significant healthcare cost savings. As there are difficulties in changing dietary patterns in Asia, where the grain choice is often refined, there were questions as to how to move towards more whole grains. It is important that families with young children start by introducing whole grains where permitted and while this may not be in main meals (with brown rice), snacking may be an opportunity that could be effectively utilised in Asian diets.
In addition to the presentation in the opening, there was also a Whole Grain session with Rikard Landberg presenting on a range of whole grains, particularly oats and rye and studies related to gut health, heart health markers, liquid and flake oat comparisons and the results of the MEDGICarb-study with the most recent results showing that women, compared to men, are more sensitive to the metabolic effects of the dietary Glycaemic Index. Dr. Fang Yong from the Nanjing University of Finance and Economics and Dr. Liu Liya from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences both presented on whole grain topics as well.
In total, there were 179 presentations and 26 posters with prizes awarded across a range of metrics. In order to continue the momentum around whole grains seen at the conference, the Whole Grain Initiative will form a special group to focus more on diets in Asian countries, bringing together a group of experts.