As the leading professional association dedicated to dental, oral and craniofacial research, the American Association for Dental Research (AADR) works to promote the improvement of oral health worldwide and serve as an exemplar of the latest evidence promoting oral as well as overall health.
To that end, the AADR Board of Directors and staff have made a commitment to promoting fitness and wellness and to providing healthier alternatives for food and beverages at all AADR meetings.
2. AADR Healthy Meeting Policy Overview
AADR will implement the following policies at AADR-funded meetings and events to encourage healthy behavior at our meetings. In doing so, AADR hopes to create a culture of health and wellness that – in addition to promoting oral and overall health – fosters healthier behaviors and choices.
This policies guide for AADR meetings is intended to encompass nutrition, tobacco-free space, physical activity and sustainability. AADR staff will negotiate available options with each destination and venue, as needed. Furthermore, AADR will periodically evaluate its healthy meeting policies and adjust them as needed to reflect acceptability of policies or to enhance the healthfulness of choices.
*AADR developed the following healthy meetings policy largely relying on the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity’s Healthy Meeting Toolkit,1 which is adhered to by several organizations working toward a healthy meeting environment for their employees and members.
The Policies herein have been developed specifically for AADR meetings and events.
a. Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Policy
Research has shown that the consumption of sugars has a direct impact on a person’s oral and overall health. Sugar intake – particularly in the form of sugar-sweetened beverages – has a correlation to a range of health issues, including dental caries, energy levels, obesity, and Type 2 diabetes, among others.
Image Source: FDI World Dental Federation
- Sugar-sweetened beverages will not be purchased by AADR for meetings, including AADR-funded events, such as receptions and luncheons.
- Fluoridated water will be served at all water stations throughout AADR meetings, where available.
- AADR will ensure that low-fat and non-fat milk are served with coffee and tea in addition to half and half.
- AADR will encourage other groups holding ancillary meetings during the AADR Annual Meeting to adopt a similar policy.
b. Water Refilling Stations
AADR will provide water refilling stations whenever possible and will encourage attendees to carry personal water bottles. When available, AADR will provide fluoridated water.
c. General Food Policy
Foods served at meetings and conferences are too often high in fat, added sugars and sodium. Coupled with the limited amount of time allotted to physical activity at meetings and conferences, those foods are not conducive to a healthy work environment. Therefore, AADR will work to offer healthier food options to help create a higher-energy meeting environment that supports our members and their ability to eat well and be active.
- AADR will offer fruits and/or vegetables every time food is served.
- AADR will place healthier foods and beverages in prominent positions, where they are more likely to be seen and chosen.
- AADR will provide vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan meal options.
- AADR will not serve candy or have candy readily available for attendees at its meetings.
- When possible, AADR will offer reasonable portion sizes and/or limit dessert sizes.
- AADR will offer whole grain options.
d. Smoking Policy
Smoking and inhaling secondhand smoke are hazardous to individuals’ health. In addition to the role that smoking and secondhand smoke inhalation play in causing cardiovascular disease and lung cancer, cigarettes and chewing tobacco are also harmful to oral health, resulting in negative possible impacts, such as gum disease and oral cancer. Similarly, vaping, the act of inhaling and exhaling the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes or similar devices, is still being evaluated for health risks, though a growing body of evidence indicates that the chemicals may be dangerous.
- AADR Annual Meetings and other AADR-funded events are all designated as tobacco-free, non-smoking (including tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes) events. AADR will make every effort to ensure that all meeting spaces and AADR event-associated venues are smoke-free.
- AADR will host conferences in cities with comprehensive smoke-free policies that include restaurants and bars.
e. Fitness and Wellness Policy
Meetings and conferences generally include little opportunity for physical activity and typically involve a lot of time sitting, which leads to reduced concentration and energy levels.
- AADR will encourage attendees to continue their regular exercise routines as well as to move regularly throughout the day, including within the meeting space by standing, stretching, etc.
- AADR will encourage panelists to periodically break up sitting time.
f. Disease Transmission
IADR will closely monitor and follow international and local public health guidance that may affect the organization of its meetings and events or may restrict participants’ travel to them. IADR strongly encourages meeting and event participants to exercise personal responsibility and adhere to guidelines and recommendations for the prevention of infectious disease person-to-person transmission.
Proper hygiene practices—including frequently washing hands, staying home when sick, using a tissue or coughing/sneezing into a flexed elbow and not the hand, and not touching the face—are essential to overall cleanliness and interrupting the spread of disease2. AADR recognizes the importance of these practices to protect its meeting delegates, global headquarters staff and the meeting venue’s staff. AADR will promote and encourage hygienic practices among its meeting and event attendees in order to help reduce the spread of germs and illnesses.
- AADR will ensure alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol is available at AADR meetings and events.
- AADR will confirm all meeting and event venues have clean handwashing facilities.
- AADR will provide tissue at meetings and events that participants can take, as needed.
- AADR will place reminders about the importance of hygienic practices throughout its meeting and event venues.
g. Sustainability Policy
Healthy meetings practices can also minimize the negative impact that meetings and conferences can have on the environment.
AADR would like to move toward more sustainable “green” practices that will reduce waste and implement reuse and recycling techniques. This change will be gradually introduced over time, since members expect to receive materials like the AADR Annual Meeting program book in hard copy.
- AADR will have recycling bins available for meeting attendees and staff at all times.
- AADR will reduce waste and packaging whenever possible.
- AADR will make handouts available online in an attempt to reduce paper consumption.
1Healthy Meeting Toolkit, National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity.
Available here: https://cspinet.org/sites/default/files/attachment/Final%20
2Hygiene Etiquette & Practice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity.