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Summary of the 2014 Global Symposium for Ketogenic Dietary Therapies

We’ve just returned from Liverpool, England where we attended the 4th Global Symposium for Ketogenic Dietary Therapies for Epilepsy and Other Neurological Disorders, hosted by Matthew’s Friends. Our brains are full of new and exciting information, so for this week’s blog post, I thought I’d share an overview of the conference with you.

As mentioned, this year’s Global Symposium was held in Liverpool, UK and hosted by Matthew’s Friends. For those of you not familiar with Matthew’s Friends, it is a charity based in England dedicated to spreading awareness and providing access to the ketogenic diet. It was started by Emma Williams, mom to Matthew, whose seizures and quality of life improved on the ketogenic diet. The mission of Matthew’s Friends is very similar to that of the Charlie Foundation here in the US, and the two groups often work together (The Charlie Foundation hosted the last Global Symposium, held in Chicago in 2012).

The Global Symposium consisted of 4 days of presentations for health care professionals, followed by a family day for families of children on the ketogenic diet, some adult patients on the ketogenic diet, and some individuals who are just interested in learning more about it. There were 5 of us from the US KetoCal team who attended the symposium, in addition to our KetoCal colleagues from the UK, Germany, Netherlands, and Spain. KetoCal had a booth in the exhibitor’s hall and as always, Chef Neil wowed visitors with his KetoCal recipe creations. We were excited to see our fellow US buddies from the Glut-1 Deficiency Foundation in the booth right across from us!

Day 1:

The conference kicked off on Tuesday with a dietitian’s meeting in the morning, followed by the opening sessions for the professional program in the afternoon. After the close of the sessions, Matthew’s Friends hosted a Welcome Reception where everyone could catch up with old friends and meet new members of the global keto family.

Matthew’s Friends created awesome video overviews of each day of the conference. Here is the video of Day 1.

Day 2:

Wednesday morning covered utilization of the ketogenic diet for specific epilepsy syndromes, including Dravet Syndrome, Doose Syndrome, Infantile Spasms, Status Epilepticus, FIRES, Angelman Syndrome, and Tuberous Sclerosis. In the afternoon, we heard presentations about the possible “mechanisms of action” of the ketogenic diet (or for those of us who are not doctors, we learned a little about how and why the diet is thought to work). That evening, we got to visit the Museum of Liverpool for the poster session. This was one of my favorite parts of the conference- Researchers from all over the world displayed posters presenting their brand new research on the ketogenic diet.

Watch the Matthew’s Friends’ video summary of Day 2 here.

Day 3:

On Day 3, researchers discussed secondary effects of the ketogenic diet, such as the diet’s effects on cognition, learning, behaviors, and bone health. Dr. Kossoff, who some of you may know from the Ketogenic Diet Center at Johns Hopkins University, talked about the long term use of the ketogenic diet. Next, a group of ketogenic dietitians talked about the clinical implementation of the ketogenic diet. The afternoon sessions focused on “optimizing utilization” of the diet. The presenters talked about utilizing the diet in specific age groups, including infants and adults, and in specific situations, such as for patients in status epilepticus. Emma Williams presented on ways to better support families and prepare them for managing their child’s ketogenic diet. That night, we had the privilege of attending the Matthew’s Friends Charity 10th Anniversary Gala Dinner. We enjoyed some great food and an awesome Beatle’s cover band (when in Liverpool!).

View the video summary of Day 3 here.

Day 4:

We started Day 4 of the professional conference with presentations on using the ketogenic diet across different cultures and settings. Next, we learned about the ketogenic diet for patients with mitochondrial disease and specific metabolic conditions, including pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency and Glut-1 Deficiency. In the afternoon sessions, we learned about research being done on the ketogenic diet for cancer, a new and exciting topic for the ketogenic diet community. We ended the day with discussions about the future of the ketogenic diet and the announcement of the 2016 Global Symposium, which will be held in Banff, Canada!

Watch the Day 4 video summary here.

Family Day:

Family Day is always my favorite part of the Global Symposium. It’s exciting to meet families and learn about their ketogenic diet stories. In the morning, presenters gave families an overview of the presentations from the professional sessions. In the afternoon, we broke up into workshops for specific areas of interest. Between sessions, Chef Neil made some amazing KetoCal recipe creations for families to try, including some popular British foods, Scotch Eggs and Yorkshire Pudding! The UK KetoCal team launched some new KetoCal recipe books. There’s one for a 4:1 ratio, 3:1 ratio, Modified Atkins Diet, and MCT Ketogenic Diet.  Families got to take one home and they were a huge hit. We are in the process of putting some US versions of the recipe books together so keep an eye out for them in the next few months!

See the video summary of Family Day here.

Well done, Matthew’s Friends, on a very successful, informative, and fun Global Symposium. We are already looking forward to seeing everyone in Banff in 2016!

-Mallory

Below are some photos from the week.