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Banff Recap: Report from the 5th Global Symposium on Ketogenic Diet Therapies

Epilepsy News From: Tuesday, October 18, 2016

After 2 years of planning, the 5th Global Symposium on Ketogenic Diet Therapies is now finished and was an enormous success. These meetings are held every two years. The last meeting was in 2014 in Liverpool, England.

The 2016 meeting was the largest to date with over 500 neurologists, dietitians, scientists, industry representatives, and parents in attendance from over 40 countries. Held in beautiful Banff, Alberta, Canada, the conference was primarily sponsored by the Charlie Foundation and primary organizer Dr. Jong Rho from Alberta Children’s Hospital. It ran from September 20-24, 2016, and details on the full agenda can be found at www.ketoconnect.org.

What Was New at the 2016 Global Symposium

Throughout the meeting, there were lectures, posters, and workshops designed to raise the level of science regarding ketogenic diet therapies and to promote collaborations. Three major themes were very apparent to me as an attendee that distinguished this meeting from the previous one in 2014.

First, there was a large increase in the number of lectures and posters devoted to conditions other than epilepsy for which dietary therapies can be used, including cancer, autism, cognitive disorders, diabetes, and obesity (to name a few). In fact, the equivalent of nearly one full day was spent on these “non-epilepsy” topics.

Second, there were many posters from small, new centers worldwide sharing their experience building ketogenic diet resources in their countries. The over 100 posters spread out over 2 days (a new record) clearly demonstrated the worldwide spread of dietary therapies.

Posters at the 2016 Ketogenic Diet Symposium

Third, there was a virtual explosion in ketogenic diet foods from various vendors and parent support groups including the formula companies. There were also new organizations like Matthews Friends Canada and Quest. It was incredible to taste these amazing foods, some of which were hard to believe were truly ketogenic, but they were! Some photos are included below:

Food at the 2016 Ketogenic Diet Symposium
Food at the 2016 Ketogenic Diet Symposium

Highlights of the 2016 Global Symposium

It would be impossible for me to recap here succinctly all of the exciting work being done. However, I will share a few personal highlights of the meetings that you’re likely to hear more about in months to years to come:

  • Dr. Helen Cross shared information about two ongoing studies headed by her group in London.  One is called the “KIWE” trial (Ketogenic diet in Infants With Epilepsy) comparing the ketogenic diet versus another anti-seizure drug in children ages 3 to 24 months. A second is called the “edible” trial to see if the ketogenic diet improves outcomes after surgery (by being used beforehand for 6 months) in children with focal cortical malformations of the brain. This second trial is about to start.
KIWE Trial logo
Edible Trial logo
  • There were two posters about pregnancy while on the modified Atkins diet for epilepsy. Both women did well as did their babies. This is obviously a hot and important topic.
  • Using the ketogenic diet (not just a low carb diet) for both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes seems to be not only feasible, but very helpful for both diabetes and epilepsy when occurring together.
  • There were many posters and discussions about ways to make the start of the ketogenic diet easier for families. These ideas included Child Life involvement, low-carb teaching classes, pre-ketogenic diet admission meetings with families, teaching families to reduce sugars and processed foods before starting the ketogenic diet, and then assessment of cooking abilities.
  • A platform research presentation by Dr. Lambrechts from the Netherlands was interesting and generated discussion about her findings of improved mood and behavior in a randomized controlled trial of the ketogenic diet. This paper was highlighted last month in fact. I think we are likely to see more studies devoted not to just seizure control but also improving cognitive outcomes.
  • A randomized trial of a ketogenic diet (MAD plus MCT oil) compared to a control diet is underway in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is being run by Dr. Ryan Lee and dietitian Miki Wong to improve the symptoms of autism. Interim results are encouraging and this trial is ongoing.
Posters at the 2016 Ketogenic Diet Symposium
  • Large numbers of posters and discussions were held about the “extreme” ages of ketogenic diet therapy: infants and adults.
  • Several companies are working on apps and desktop computer programs to help families keep track of foods, recipes, ketones, and seizures electronically.

This incredible meeting will be held again October 5-8, 2018, on the island of Jeju off the coast of South Korea. Dr. Heung Dong Kim will be the primary organizer of this meeting and I will be a co-organizer. Stay tuned for more details in the next year.

Authored by

Eric Kossoff MD

Reviewed Date

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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