Thursday, May 31, 2007

Smoke free and obesity

"Engeland goes smoke free" is what was announced on a typical London bus I passed when I walked on Oxford Street towards a World Cancer Research Fund Grant Panel meeting last Tuesday. Following the example of countries like Ireland, Norway and Italy, From July 31, 2007 on, England will ban smoking from all 'enclosed public places' and workplaces, including restaurants. Also in the Netherlands it has been announced that restaurants will have to become smoke free within the near future.

This is very good news for public health: people will be less exposed to second hand smoke. It is also very good news for people who enjoy eating good food in a restaurant unspoiled by a smoky environment.

Within Europe, England has one of the highest rates of overweight and obesity.

This same week the National Statistics Bureau of the Netherlands published their latest findings related to smoking and smoking cessation in the Netherlands (see People in the Netherlands who have stopped smoking are 3.6 K heavier than people who have continued smoking. Never-smokers are a bit heavier than smokers but have a lower mean body weight than ex-smokers.

Earlier research has shown that people who eat out more, have a somewhat higher mean body weight...

Policy measures to discourage smoking are much needed since smoking is still the most improtant determinant of preventable burden of disease. But obesity is a close runner-up. Will measures against smoking further increase obesity rates?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A strong closing and a likewise start

Today there was an important double ceremony at the VU University. Professor Houtgast gave his final lecture as professor of Experimental Audiology followed immediately by the inaugural address of Joost Festen as professor of Audiology.

The audiology research is part of the Care & prevention research track of the EMGO Institute (see

Professor Houtgast’s lecture gave a very nice overview of how his field of research emerged and has grown over the thirteen years since he was appointed. The title of his lecture was ‘hearing loss and the beta researcher’ (Slechthorendheid en de Beta-onderzoeker), and during his speech he argued that his field of research involves more than ‘just’ beta expertise. Professor Festen’s lecture was entitled ‘the challenge of understanding’ (Verstaan als Uitdaging) and he gave further evidence that the study of hearing loss is a multidisciplinary research field, involving technical, medical and behavioural expertise. This multidisciplinary environment is exactly what the EMGO institute aims for.

I congratulate professors Houtgast and Festen with their interesting lectures.