Symposium Speakers

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Kelly Brownell

Kelly Brownwell

Kelly Brownell is Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, where he is also Robert L. Flowers Professor of Public Policy, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and Director of the World Food Policy Center.

In 2006 Time magazine listed Kelly Brownell among “The World’s 100 Most Influential People” in its special Time 100 issue featuring those “.. whose power, talent or moral example is transforming the world.” Brownell was elected to membership in the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) in 2006 and has received numerous awards and honors for his work, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Psychological Association, Graduate Mentoring Award from Yale, the James McKeen Cattell Award from the New York Academy of Sciences, the Distinguished Alumni Award from Purdue University, the Lifetime Achievement Award from Rutgers University, and the Distinguished Scientific Award for the Applications of Psychology from the American Psychological Association.

Prior to joining the faculty at Duke, Brownell was at Yale University where he was the James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, and Director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. While at Yale he served as Chair of the Department of Psychology and as Master of Silliman College.

Dr. Brownell has published 15 books and more than 350 scientific articles and chapters. He has served as President of several national organizations, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, and the Division of Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association.

Dr. Brownell has advised the White House, members of congress, governors, world health and nutrition organizations, and media leaders on issues of nutrition, obesity, and public policy. He was cited as a “moral entrepreneur” with special influence on public discourse in a history of the obesity field and was cited by Time magazine as a leading “warrior” in the area of nutrition and public policy.

Featured Speakers

Chef Christine Cushing

Christine Cushing

The only chef to host a live cooking show in Canada, Christine Cushing Live on the Food Network, Christine has been teaching Canadians to cook for more than 18 years. Her epic t.v career included Fearless in the Kitchen, on the Oprah Winfrey Network and her latest show, Confucius Was a Foodie , an exciting doc series fresh off its’ third season on Nat Geo Asia and NTD tv. in Canada and for which Christine has been nominated for the highly prestigious ‘ best host award’ from the Academy of Canadian Film and Television. As the resident chef on the highest rated talk show in Canada, the Marilyn Denis Show, Christine’s life revolves entirely around food.

Born in Athens, Greece, Christine immigrated to Canada with her family at the age of one. After completing the Food and Beverage Management Program at George Brown College, Christine went on to graduate at the top of her class at the Paris based École de Cuisine La Varenne. That year forever changed her philosophy of food and made her drive even harder to follow a career in the culinary arts. She has worked in such renowned kitchens as Toronto’s The Four Seasons Hotel, King Ranch Health Spa and Scaramouche Restaurant.

She was the spokesperson for Cook for the Cure Breast Cancer campaign and a superhero for the Starbright foundation for Sick Kids hospital and currently a judge for the Gold Medal Plate annual fundraiser for the Olympic committee as well as a committed advocate of the Children’s Breakfast Clubs. She has published three best-selling cookbooks, Dish it Out, Fearless in the Kitchen, and her third called Pure Food won a Gourmand world cookbook award in Spain (Whitecap 2007).

Christine’s artisan product line is a culmination of many years of planning, tasting, researching and determination. At the root of her line is a spectacular, DOP extra virgin olive oil from the rugged hills of Mani in the southern Greek mainland and a hugely popular series of sauces hand-made in Ontario, from Christine’s personal recipe in Toronto and a highly addictive sweet roasted red pepper spread.

Christine’s culinary philosophy is simple: Start with the best ingredients, have fun and share everything you know about food.


David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, and Chef Dawn Ludwig

Nishta Saxena, MSc. RD

David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD is an endocrinologist and researcher at Boston Children’s Hospital. He holds the rank of Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Professor of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. Dr Ludwig is Founder of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Children’s Hospital, one of the country’s oldest and largest multidisciplinary clinics for the care of overweight children. His research focuses on the effects of diet on hormones, metabolism and body weight. In particular, he developed a novel “low glycemic load” diet (i.e., one lowers blood sugar and insulin after meals) for the treatment of obesity and prevention of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Described as an “obesity warrior” by Time Magazine, Dr. Ludwig has fought for fundamental policy changes to improve the food environment. Dr. Ludwig is Principal Investigator on numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health, has published over 150 scientific articles. He has written 3 books for the public, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently (Grand Central Publishing, 2016).

Dawn Ludwig has devoted her career to helping people discover the fun, beauty, and delicious taste of natural foods. Her experience training chefs and working with individuals, families, and health care practitioners has taught her what works, what doesn’t, and most importantly, how to make living and eating healthier a practical reality.

Dawn’s latest project, with her husband Dr. David Ludwig, is the delectable cookbook Always Delicious, the companion to the #1 New York Times bestselling Always Hungry? Conquer Cravings, Retrain Your Fat Cells, and Lose Weight Permanently where she translates his science into comprehensive recipes, menu plans, and tips for applying the principles to everyday life.

In Always Hungry? renowned endocrinologist Dr. David Ludwig showed us why traditional diets don’t work, and how to lose weight without hunger, improve your health, and feel great. The reception to the book has been strong and his online community is active and growing rapidly. Now, in Always Delicious, Dr. Ludwig and Dawn Ludwig have created over 175 easy-to-make and tasty recipes that ignore calories and target fat cells directly. With recipes like Spinach Feta Quiche, Citrus Teriyaki Chicken Stir Fry, Thai Coconut Fish Soup, and Pear Cranberry Pie, which are full of luscious high fat ingredients, savory proteins, and natural carbohydrates, this indispensable cookbook is a liberating new way to tame hunger and lose weight … for good.


Nishta Saxena, MSc., RD

Nishta Saxena, MSc. RD

Nishta Saxena is a Registered Dietitian, practicing since 2005. She is a Paediatric and Family Nutritionist, founder of Vibrant Nutrition, and proud mama of two. Her expertise includes paediatric and family nutrition, and chronic disease prevention and management. In her practice, Nishta helps families through their ever-changing nutritional needs.  Nishta believes that nutrition can transform lives, and it is her goal to change lives through her work.

In her practice she helps families through the lifecycle of stages of nutrition, taking a whole food, nutrition-for-real-life approach. She is also known as a “nutrition myth-buster,” promoting evidence-based nutrition rather than food trends.

Nishta divides her professional time between the academic, media and private practice. She completed her clinical dietetic internship at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, and her MSc in Clinical Nutrition Science at the University of Toronto, where she has a faculty appointment in the Department of Family & Community Medicine. A frequently invited speaker at conferences, she presents up-to-date clinical nutrition concepts to physicians and the general public. Nishta is also a food and nutrition expert with CTV’s Your Morning, a regular on the The Marilyn Dennis Show, and has made regular contributions to Global National News, Today’s Parent Magazine, Globe and Mail and the CBC.

Nishta has worked as a food and nutrition expert with Global National News, written for CBC and Today’s Parent and is a regular contributor on CTV Your Morning and the Marilyn Dennis Show, as a nutrition and healthexpert.