At EXPOMilano2015, food and nutrition was discussed during the international meeting "Back to Basics" which was attended by doctors, scientists and senior figures from around the world. Attendees included the Australian Robert Gibson, the Italian Carlo La Vecchia, Briton Sumantra Ray, the South African Christine Venter, the Swiss Luc Tappy and the Israeli Raanan Shamir.
Many topics were addressed, primarily the indispensability of scientific evidence in all research regarding food and nutrition, starting with the one that Prof. Bier has repeatedly defined as the only element corroborated by science in this field - namely that an imbalance between ingested calories and consumed calories results in a person being overweight or underweight.
During the meeting, the importance of the holistic approach was stressed, and its capacity to analyze food in all its complexity. According to Prof. Gibson, "Guidelines that focus on specific nutrients must be evaluated critically: the food must be considered in its complexity and in eating patterns."
This position is strongly opposed to the reductionist approach, which focuses on individual nutrient criteria that lately has been used to suggest approaches such as "traffic light food" in the UK (Traffic Light Labelling) or more broadly to so-called "nutrient profiles." This approach has proven repeatedly to have limitations in providing nutritional guidelines and has also resulted in harmful campaigns of demonization of individual nutrients (fat and sugar in particular). On this subject, Prof. Tappy stated that: "The reductionist view of individual ingredients has, in the past, posited theories that recent findings on fats cast into great doubt." The scholar then focused on the specific case of sugar: "Today, sugar seems to replace fat, but without a holistic approach to assess the nutrition as a whole, it is easy to predict that soon these presumptions will be denied by science."
A further focus involved the criticism of observational studies (epidemiology) - starting with the observations of two scholars among the most popular in the world, John Ioannidis and Peter C. Austin - which would be methodologically inadequate to demonstrate any causal relationships between events related to health and consumption of individual nutrients.
In addition, during the meeting, they discussed the generic concept of balanced diet, necessary despite dietary differences in the world. Also discussed was the need to create a right-thinking convergence of tradition and innovation in the field of dietary practices and the correct assessment of the role that taste has as an essential constituent of food choice for all people.