As already mentioned in Workshop 1 text, in order to track and monitor relevant benefits from dietary and lifestyle related changes arising from converting to Ecoregions one or more sets of markers and indicators are necessary. A somehow simple set of biomarkers is useful for municipalities in order to monitor the effect of the changes on a more daily basis, but a more comprehensive set of biomarkers is also relevant and important for researchers digging deeper into the more complex results of the transitions.
This includes indicators for mental health encompassing psychological, emotional and social well-being (addressed in Workshop 1), but also the indicators of somatic health. The use of biomarkers/indicators for measurements of nutrition and somatic health are compromised by the fact that traditionally these have been dependent on monitoring dietary intake and biomarkers of disease risk. The traditional biomarkers used in studies measuring diet and health are actually disease-risk markers and are only affected when the metabolic balance is sufficiently disturbed to actually affect the biomarkers. However, new and emerging biomarkers are underway, especially omics techniques and microbiome characterization may be useful in future studies to explore health effects of dietary changes. This multidisciplinary area needs to be approached by including the expertise from a number of scientific disciplines.
The above leads to this project activity, aiming to bring together researchers and experts i.e. in child nutrition and health, experts in organic and sustainable food and health, as well as experts in the various areas of biomarkers, i.e. microbiome and the different omics techniques, to discuss and reach consensus on the best markers for future monitoring and research on the somatic health effects of dietary transitions towards more sustainable and organic diets.
For this, the 2nd INSUM International Workshop was organised in Warsaw on 17th-18th October 2022, bringing together experts from Europe and from overseas as well as representatives of the INSUM consortium.
The outcomes of the workshop will be described in the consensus paper (currently in progress). The developed research network and the workshop scientific outcome will serve as a strong basis for a multicentre Horizon Europe project proposal about dietary transition, consumption of local, organic and sustainable food, health and wellbeing of children and adults in ecoregions.