Research Professor of Medicine
Stanford Prevention Research Center
Panelist-Protein Planet: A conversation with Christopher Gardner, PhD, and Arlin Wasserman
Christopher Gardner holds a PhD in Nutrition Science and is a Professor of Medicine at Stanford. For the past 20 years his research has examined the potential health benefits of dietary components such as soy, garlic, antioxidants, ginkgo, omega-3 fats, vegetarian diets, and weight loss diets in the general population. The most current continuation of this work includes an NIH funded weight loss trial among 600 overweight and obese adults that will try to determine if such factors as insulin resistance, genotype and microbiota predict differential weight loss on different diets. The underlying hypothesis is that for the past 20-30 years the question of "which is the best diet for weight loss" has been the wrong question. Dr. Gardner believes a better question to try to answer in terms of diet and obesity is "which is the best diet for who." Recently his nutrition interests have expanded to two new areas. The first is to explore motivators other than health for making positive dietary changes, piggybacking on ongoing social movements around animal welfare, climate change, social justice, and their relationships to food - stealth health. The second is to focus on a food systems approach to dietary improvements that addresses the quality of food provided by schools, hospitals, worksites, food banks and other institutional food settings. Gardner initiated the first annual Stanford Food Summit in 2010, which is now entering its sixth year. Gardner’s long-term vision in this area is to create a world-class Stanford Center for Education and Research in Food Systems, and build on the idea that Stanford is uniquely positioned geographically, culturally, and academically, to address national and global crises in the areas of obesity and diabetes that are directly related to our broken food systems.