Today at the European Nutrition Conference in Leipzig


Photo: Miguel Angel Garrido

A reader sent me this picture, taken during a coffee break at the large European nutrition conference in Leipzig.

The picture above just shows a small part of the table. Here’s all of it:

Coffee break


Obviously even nutrition professionals are allowed to have sweets once in a while. But was there really nothing better to serve? Perhaps there are nutrition professionals who prefer something drastic: using their knowledge about healthy food in real life?

To me it feels like handing out cigarettes to participants at a lung cancer conference. Tasteless. It makes the whole arrangement seem clueless – and unfortunately it’s not the first time I see something like it.

What do you think?

Earlier better and worse examples

Coca Cola Sponsors Brazilian Obesity Conference

Why Americans are Obese: Chocolate Extravaganza

Fear of Cream at the Nutrition Conference

Ooops: Nobody Eats the Bread!

High Fat Food at the Obesity Conference

Romantic dinner while traveling

Eggs & Bacon at the Obesity Conference


  1. Low Carb Club ZA
    noooooooo! Too much! Carb Overload!
  2. Dan
    I went to a JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) 5k fundraiser walk, and every quarter mile they had food/drink stations with mountains of Coca Cola, sandwiches, and candy. I was so horrified I left halfway through.
  3. Lari Katz
  4. Rose
    The worst part about this picture, is that I can just imagine the skinny "nutritionists" scarfing the stuff down, while looking down their noses at any attendants that are not lucky enough to have those crazy magic genes that let you eat high carb and stay thin.

    Or maybe I am just cynical after years of experiencing this kind of prejudice and attitude first hand.

  5. J. B. Rainsberger
    I can only hope that the organisation outsourced the conference booking details to an event planning service.
  6. MargaretRC
    Wow! Just wow.
  7. CheW
    Maybe it was all made with almond and or flax meal and if so I want those recipes.
  8. Flo
    It's appalling! Really, couldn't they have found room for a fruit bowl? I'm not a nutritionist but I know that junk wouldn't keep me going till lunch, I'd be crashing after twenty minutes. Save me from ever needing their 'expertise'!
  9. Sarah
    Well said, matey-dude!

    This is EXACTLY what the NHS here in the UK doesn't get. I'm sick - I KNOW exactly what's wrong (I have gallstones thanks to 25 years of LFHC 'dieting'). I have basically been told that I either quit LCHF - or suffer!

    I lost 22.5st/315lb eating LCHF - so I've now been suffering for over 2 YEARS!

    The irony here is that it's an all-female practice and every single quack is obese; my own GP has gone from around a UK 18/20 (US 14/16, unsure of EU size) to a UK 26/28 (22/24). I know the last one because she left her jumper, inside-out, over the back of her chair. She's now doing LighterLife (it's one of those MRP diets where you choose from 16 different meal-packs, all artificially flavoured, coloured and sweetened (with aspartame, of course!) and all containing FIVE different types of soy (protein, oil, lecithin, flour and xanthan gum)! I also believe I've a dodgy thyroid due to an NHS dietician ordering me to drink copious amounts of soy milk ("It'll significantly increase your weight loss!" she insisted. It didn't. After a year with her I was 6 stone (84lb) heavier than when I started! The DIET wasn't to blame, of course, I was still eating FAR too much fat, I wasn't doing enough chronic cardio, etc.)).

    Don't fancy the meal-packs...?! No probs! There are also 6 different flavours of bars and 6 flavours of 'snacks' (think Slim Fast-type crap) to choose from! She's doing the 'Light-Fast' programme (it's basically that 5:2 nonsense. I used to do 5:2 properly; I'd not eat at the weekends at all. But I was properly fat-adapted back then, and was able to tolerate EVCO and MCT oil (a 25-50ml shot just before I did a PrimalFitness session. They both make me puke now!

  10. Laurene Weichman
    Are you kidding me? That defies logic.
  11. Claus Jensen
    Thats really funny.

    But seriously i would have been happy to see that table a year ago and eventhough i ate kinda healty i would never have thought about not eating a cake or 2 from that table.

    Its only now that i have felt the difference of NOT eating carbs that i can see the logic being made in this post and i know most of the world still fials to see the problem with that picture in that context.

  12. Troy Wynn
    That would just knock me out. Later I'd be ravenously hungry.

    Too bad we don't see any pic's of the attendees. May be surprised to find that they avoided the offering. In fact, they may too have been appalled!

  13. Jan
    It's a little like going to your local diabetes support group and being offered tea and biscuits. Of course those who have yet to learn about the benefits of a low carb high fat diet just tuck in - unless of course other enlightened individuals warn them of the perils.

    A definite carb overload being shown in these pictures

    All the best Jan

  14. Martine
    What probably happened is that the venue for the conference catered the coffee break, the same way they cater for any other conference. It was probably bundled with the other services for the conference.

    It's obvious that no one gave a moment's thought to the food that was going to be served. At best, some some administrative assistant in charge of choosing the venue was provided with a menu that she approved, without any thoughts to the cognitive dissonance it was creating.

    I guess this is symptomatic of the rest of the nutrition world. Many people talk the talk, but few walk the walk.

    Imagine if the food served at a paleo or lowcarb conference was given so little thought. It would probably cause an uproar.

  15. Ash Simmonds
    Let them eat cake.
  16. Nancy
    I'm not defending this table of sugary crap, but it's worth pointing out that this demonstrates how in Europe sweets come in modest portion sizes. All of these are small pastries, just a couple of bites. In the USA by contrast, each of these items would be about 3 times larger. I suppose if you just had one of these with your coffee, you would be OK. But being the sugar addict that I am, I can't just have 1, and so I'd rather do without.
    Reply: #26
  17. justmeint
    this is an abomination.....
  18. mihaela
    actually they also served fruit during the coffee break.
    so there were also healthier alternatives.

    there was no meat, though........

  19. Mr Keto
    I grew up eating Berliners. I miss them. Sniff....sniff. ;(
  20. Lolita
    IF....I mean IF they are all made with coconut, almond and other healthy flour, THEN I want the recipes
  21. Tierlieb
    I love to imagine the catering service getting called by participants weeks before and having requests made by proponents of various paleo, Keto/NC, LC low GI, low GL, IF, "healthy carbs only", good-calories-bad-calories, low-LDL-and-HDL, high-LDL-long-as-HDL-is-even-higher, raw foodist, Atkins, high fiber or anti-gluten philosophies and deciding to give a little "f... you" to all of them.

    That would be nicely illustrating the recent issues nutrition discussion has.

    This fiction sounds much better than no one bothered to tell the catering service where their food would go.

  22. Murray
    It is sad that it does not even comply with their own approved food guidelines. Little wonder there is a diabesity epidemic if these are the shepherds guiding the sheep.
  23. James De Leo
    The European diet ways don't apply to us. diabetes and malnutrition don't plague them there. They get much more exercise because they don't use cars as much, instead they walk or ride bikes to and from work or school, not to mention a completely different approach to junk snacks. junk snacks don't have a foot hold like they do here and the picture you above is only that, a picture. The people who ate that stuff probably only had on or two with their coffee, not a plate full like you might think.
    Reply: #25
  24. Linda
    Are you kidding me Nancy? Look at the desserts on the plates. These sweets aren't smaller than in the US except the donuts. I was amused that this wasn't in the US and then there is the US comparison comment. Never fails. And...the conference food supplies so many sweet choices.
  25. Murray
    The World Health Organization reports that rates of diabetes are increasing in Europe in all age groups.

  26. robert
    Nancy, I can assure you that you will easily find much larger pastries in any bakery in Europe. They will be palm-of-your-hand-sized.

    Most of the cake-like-objects in the photography have been cut into bite-sized pieces. The jelly-filled things are somewhat small, but only to fit into the finger-food category. You can easily pop a couple of them into you mouth in no time.

    We may not have as much HFCS in the EU, but there sure as hell is a lot of sugar.

  27. Zell Z
    I just went into diabetic shock looking at that photo & I'm not even a diabetic...
  28. Zell Z
    The ones on the bottom tier look Very good....filled with something, Stop, Stop STOP!!!!!!!!!! (Well, there Goes MY Ketosis! I'm so damn carb sensitive, a photo like that one can start my body producing insulin, I think)....
    Reply: #29
  29. murray
    Zell Z, , I call it the food porn effect. I found my blood sugar goes up (from about 4.2 to 4.7) just from reading through a recipe book. (I was curious and measured.) Perhaps it was random variation and measurement error. I measured blood sugar upon getting up in the morning, sat down to go through the recipe book to plan menus for the weekend, and then measured blood sugar again without having eaten or drunk anything. That seems to have been enough to raise blood sugar.
    Reply: #30
  30. FrankG
    Perhaps it is your body secreting insulin in anticipation of the feast in front to your eyes, this tends to drive your Blood Glucose (BG) down (because there WAS no food) and so to compensate, your Liver releases some of its store of Glycogen as Glucose... driving your BG back up and (as seems common in folks healing towards metabolic disorder i.e. the bulk of the population) it OVER-compensates; resulting in an higher BG than you started with.

    It would be great if we had an easy, at home way to measure insulin levels as we can do with BGs.

    Probably the most asked question by "newbies" on Diabetes forums is "why is my BG higher in the morning than when I went to bed..? I didn't eat anything overnight". The answer is a similar process, relating to the Liver dumping Glucose in anticipation of waking up and is known as the Dawn Phenomenon. Another explanation is the Somogyi effect.

    Of note people who are heading towards Metabolic Disorder (especially with Type 2 Diabetes) will often first present with "Reactive Hypoglycemia": where the overcompensation to an intake of sugar by the Pancreas secreting insulin, leads to a rapidly lowering BG... despite having just eaten. Of course at this stage the fasting BG is probably "normal" so many Doctors will likely do nothing... until it is too late of course.

    Take it from me that it is these "roller-coaster" rapid changes in BG that feel the worst -- thank goodness for the rock-solid BG stability I now enjoy by eating LCHF :-)

    Reply: #31
  31. murray
    Frank G, yes, there seems to be a lot of tugging and pulling that can go in either direction or both at the same time. Knowing insulin levels would be helpful, but shouldn't ketones be a decent proxy (presumably being inverse to insulin)? My BG has also been very stable under LCHF, although with a fair amount of variability between 4.2 and 4.8 mmol/L. Indeed, the highest measurement I have ever recorded is 5.6 mmol/L and only twice have I ever measured BG above 5.2. (I eat low-glycemic.) Indeed, after a lunch at a restaurant with my cousin in which I gave him a monitor for BG and ketones, we measured (about 30-45 minutes after finishing eating) and my BG was 4.2 and ketones 2.3. It takes a while, it seems, to gain a sense of the patterns.
    Reply: #32
  32. FrankG
    I've not tested blood ketones, so I'm unsure how they might relate back to BG or insulin levels. What were you thinking Murray?

    I did find the urine ketostix great for feedback and motivation when first starting LCHF, but I gather that ideally, once keto-adapted, you don't want to be wasting any ketones in urine... you want your body to be using them.

    I've so far assumed the BG as a fair indicator of at least, relative insulin levels... as one goes up, so does the other -- at least in an healthy person. Obviously for a Type 1 Diabetic this is not the case and even to some extent a Type 2 where the beta cells may have failed by up to 80% by the time of diagnosis -- yet another reason for earlier intervention.

    As I like to say, it is far easier to shore up a dam and lower the water pressure BEFORE it has burst.

    You are right about it taking time and many (many) BG tests to get a sense of the patterns. I was fortunate to have both an understanding Doctor and health plan when first diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. I have spreadsheets full of numbers over many weeks, months and years. Sometimes testing as much as 20 times in a day. The more data points the better in my view; which is why it is so disheartening to see health insurance and policies trying to restrict BG test strips. This might save money in the short term but it is setting that person up for much greater costs in the long-run. It is also part of the reason that I can speak with some authority as to the the effect of certain foods on at least my own BG. And much of what I found has been shared and matched with similar results from other Type 2 Diabetics.

    I don't need to test anywhere near as often these days, due to the stability gained by LCHF and although I am jealous of your BGs, mine are good enough to at least hold off the long-term complications; which seem to be an almost inevitable consequence of Type 2 Diabetes... at least when people strictly adhere to the conventional wisdom.

    But testing around meals is vital in the early days after diagnosis. You can learn a great deal about how your body tolerates different foods. Even the time of day when you eat a food can make a difference. Early in the morning seems to be the time of day when many (most?) people are the LEAST tolerant of carbs... exactly when so many are sitting down to a breakfast FULL of carbs :-(

    With all I have learned: when lean, 20-somethings know-it-alls try to lecture me about the roles of insulin, BGs and which foods drive these up... well, let's just say, I do not suffer fools gladly.

  33. ItsTheWooo
    On the plus side, at least the cakes look fresh and tasty and possibly made with butter.

    I loathe having to pretend-eat some nasty old waxy trans fat cake with fake chocolate and pretend to think it's as delicious as the rest of the people do, who don't eat normal human being food.

    Just the other day I was forced to pretend-eat some grocery store birthday cake. OMG I wanted to spit it out. The trick is to just take small little mock bites and then when no ones looking IN DA TRASSSH.

    On the other hand, if it actually is a tasty/real desert I might actually eat a very tiny amount.

    Reply: #34
  34. FrankG
    I had the same thought Jane (Woo)... European pastries are so much better than those we get over here in N America: real butter, good chocolate, real cream (instead of that awful shaving foam stuff!).

    Not something I could tolerate even in small quantities due to my Type 2 D, and probably not the best example for "leaders" at a nutrition conference to be setting but if you are going to eat real, high quality, food, then make it REAL, high quality, food :-)

  35. Joey
    You people do realize alot of the calories in these foods come from fat! I usually eat a half a pineapple and 4-5 bananas a day! also love strawberries & blueberries with cinnamon! Even love to eat lots of oatmeal! If the stuff this guy is saying is true me and my family and friends should all be morbidly obese and i'm 5 feet 8 inches and 145 pounds.
    Reply: #36
  36. FrankG
    Who said anything about calories?

    For the rest: you are making the mistake of taking LCHF to imply that ANY and ALL amounts of carbohydrates of any QUALITY will lead to obesity -- this is not the case at all. Get some perspective and do some more reading please.

  37. Galina L.
    Normal cakes in US are just horrible on several levels. The most acceptable compromise here is miniature Belgium puffs filled with a cream. I remember bringing it to work instead of a birthday cake.
  38. mezzo
    It is the same at every conference. Sometimes the baked stuff is a little more fancy, sometimes it is downright awful. There is usually bowl of fruit somewhere - the apples are usually green and unripe, same for plums and nectarines. Breakfasts are not so much of a problem, there are always eggs. But coffee breaks - shudder.
  39. Barb
    Wow... I agree... this is like handing out cigarettes at a lung cancer conference. I would be having a fasting day, I'm afraid...

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