ILSI Southeast Asia Region
Bringing you monthly news and information on nutrition and food safety issues relevant to our region
Nutrition, Food Safety and Health



The ILSI Annual Meeting was held from January 17-20, 2014 in Southampton, Bermuda, bringing together ILSI members, trustees, advisors and colleagues from around the world to share perspectives and foster global collaborations. The scientific program at the Annual Meeting provided an update on the latest research on a diverse range of food safety and nutrition topics from scientific experts from leading academic research institutions, government agencies and industrial organizations, encouraging open discussion on critical issues.

The scientific sessions at the Annual Meeting included ‘Free Will or Fate: What Drives our Food Choice Decisions?’ organized by ILSI North America, which explored  how consumers make food choices, outlining a framework of behavioral economics and human decision-making, and discussing the irrationality/rationality of human behaviour and risk perception in relation to food choice. The session also presented research on the biology behind eating and food choice including food reward circuitry, and addressed the challenges in achieving behaviour change in food choice. The session ‘Precision Nutrition: From Cell to Society’ provided an update on the field of Nutrigenomics and Personalized Nutrition, and discussed the role of fortification and dietary supplements in meeting dietary requirements. The session also discussed meeting dietary requirements through changing eating patterns and improving micronutrient status in humans by linking agriculture with human nutrition. 

The discussion forum ‘One ILSI – Global Partnership for a Healthier World’ illustrated how global collaboration in the areas of food and water safety, toxicology and risk science, nutrition for healthy aging and sustainable agriculture and food security can more effectively work towards ILSI’s mission of advancing scientific knowledge for public health. Presentations from the 2014 Annual Meeting are online now:  2014 Annual Meeting



ILSI SEAR Australasia in association with the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls, held the symposium ‘Gut Feelings – What Can We Learn From Recent Research on Gut Microbiota?’ at the Centre for Nutrition and Food Science, University of Queensland, Australia in December 2013, as a satellite symposium to the Nutrition Society of Australia/Nutrition Society of New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting. The symposium presented an update on the rapidly developing research area of the gut microbiome, providing an understanding of the relevance of the field to nutritionists, health professionals and the food industry. Relevant examples of the clinical importance of the gut microbiome to health in infants, school children and adults were presented, along with the relevance of the gut microbiome in obesity and diabetes. The symposium also discussed how to optimize the diet for gut health and the importance of food structure on fermentation by the gut microbiota. The summary report is now available on the ILSI SEA Region website.
ANNOUNCEMENT: ILSI SEA Region is pleased to announce the upcoming Regional Conference on the Gut Microbiome and Health to be held in Singapore in October 2014. The conference will bring together leading international and regional experts in the area of gut health and aims to highlight current scientific knowledge on the gut microbiome, its interactions with diet and nutrition, and the implications for health and disease particularly in Asian populations. Keep an eye out for updates on this event on the ILSI SEA Region website.

As part of ILSI SEA Region’s ongoing series of updates on nutrition labeling and claims, the 8th Seminar on Nutrition Labeling, Claims and Communication Strategies was held in Jakarta, Indonesia in November 2013. The seminar provided an update on international and regional developments in nutrition labelling, nutrition and health claims in Southeast Asia and other regions. The use of Front-of-pack (FOP) signposting schemes in the region was discussed, in addition to identifying opportunities and challenges related to use of nutrition labeling and claims in communicating nutrition and health related messages. Opportunities for harmonization of nutrition labelling and claims in Southeast Asia were also explored.  Co-organized by the National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM), Indonesia, the seminar was attended by over 200 participants, including regulators from ASEAN countries, along with key nutrition academics, and food industry regulatory and nutrition personnel. The summary report is now available through the ILSI SEA Region website.

The issue of nutrition labeling has been a pressing concern in the Philippines, with the question of consumer awareness and use of nutrition labels on packaged food products frequently raised. The food industry has recently received new regulations from government on FOP labeling, while the health and nutrition community has been considering FOPs that serve broader objectives. The seminar, “Nutrition Labeling: What You Need to Know”, held in Manila in November, discussed recent developments in nutrition labeling both in packaged food products and food service in the Philippines, as well as future trends and directions (including harmonization) in the area of nutrition labeling. The one-day seminar, organized by the ILSI SEAR Philippine Country Committee, was attended by 60 participants from government, academia and the food industry. The summary report is now available through the ILSI SEA Region website.


The major biologic function of vitamin D in humans is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, however recent research suggests that vitamin D plays a much broader disease-fighting role e.g. in muscular health, in diet-related chronic diseases, and in promoting immune health. ILSI SEAR Malaysia Country Committee organised the seminar ‘Update on Vitamin D in Human Health’ in Subang Jaya, Malaysia in November 2013, to provide an update on the scientific understanding of the physiological role of vitamin D in human nutrition, including multiple potential health benefits beyond classical bone metabolism. The seminar also discussed issues related to assessment of Vitamin D status and discussed research gaps in this area – enhancing networking for future work on Vitamin D. An update on the Vitamin D status of Malaysians was also provided, presenting results from the recently published Nutrition Survey of Malaysian Children that examined micronutrient status in 3542 Malaysian children aged 6 months to 12 years. The seminar was co-organised with the Nutrition Society of Malaysia, and was attended by 120 participants from various organisations including research institutions, academia, government agencies and the private sector. The summary report is now available through the ILSI SEA Region website.


Universal reduction in sodium intake is currently recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a cost-effective policy intervention for reducing risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs).  A review commissioned by ILSI SEA Region found that dietary sodium intakes of adults in Southeast Asian countries exceeded the WHO cut-off of 2 g Na/day.  Foods that contributed significantly to sodium intakes were condiments and sauces, processed foods, and commercially prepared restaurant/vendor foods and snacks. The study, entitled ‘Salt intakes and salt reduction initiatives in Southeast Asia: a review was published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (APJCN) in late 2013.

ILSI SEA Region were recognized for their contribution to the science in the improvement of public health by being invited to present the results of this study at the ASEAN Regional Forum on NCDs in October, attended by health ministry officials from ASEAN countries. In addition, results of an analysis on sodium consumption of different age and sex groups in the Philippines using nationwide food survey data is being finalized and upon completion, will be written for submission to a scientific journal in 2014.  


Upcoming Events

March 4-5 
Workshop and Roundtable Discussion on Food Safety Standards
Yangon, Myanmar
March 16
Physical Activity and Exercise Across the Lifespan: Implications for Obesity
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

March 22 
Energy Balance and Active Living Seminar  

April 10-11
ILSI SEA Region Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium  

Regional Conference on the Gut Microbiome

For more information on ILSI Southeast Asia Region activities, please visit

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