Friday, January 11, 2008

HOPE: Health Promotion through Obesity Prevention in Europe

Today we had our second work package leader and researcher meeting for the HOPE project (see at the EMGO Institute ( in Amsterdam. HOPE is a European Commission funded FP7 project. In this project we aim to bring the scientific knowledge on overweight, obesity and their determinants together and use the expertise of researchers all over Europe to help to tackle the obesity epidemic. This project aims to integrate and further enrich the widely available and diverse knowledge on all these topics across Europe and use this information for designing various scenarios based on careful evidence-based epidemiological modelling. This will provide entry-points for policy making, and will help the European Commission and member states to set priorities for curbing the obesity epidemic.
The project also aims to build a network of researchers across Europe active in the further study to inform obesity prevention efforts.

The HOPE team consists of international experts in the field of the study and prevention of obesity, such as Philip James and Tim Lobstein of the International Obesity Task Force (, Frank van Lenthe and Anton Kunst of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam (, Knut Inge Klepp of the University of Oslo (, ILse de Bourdeaudhuij and Lea Maes of Ghent University (, Adriano Cattaneo of the institute of child health in Trieste (, Jean Michel Oppert of INSERM, France (, and Agneta Yngve of the Karolinska Institute, Sweden (

Today in Amsterdam we prepared a ‘network-ofnetworks meeting’ that will be held preceding the European Congress on Obesity (, where we will present the HOPE project to our colleagues from across Europe and where we hope to learn from our colleagues to further inform and target our efforts within the HOPE project.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

From ice to snow

After the two days of ice on the Dutch canals that provided proof that environmental factors do predict specific physical acivities, and the Christmas days, I took a few days off. We travelled to Norway where a very good friend and colleague let us stay in his mountain hut in the Hogfjell mountains near Honefoss. The days in Norway at this time of year are very short. It gets light at about 9.00 am and dark at about 3.30 pm. The hours inbetween we used for cross country skiing, the afternoons I was able to write a paper based on a presentation I gave at the fifth Heelsum conference early December 2007. The Heelsum conferences are bi-annual invitation meetings focussed on the possibilities of healthful nutrition promotion in primary care. Professor Gerrit Hiddink from Wageningen University is the main initiator of thse conferences. This time one of the aims was to explore how nutrition education by the general practitionar fits within the broader physical and social environmental determinants of health eating.
I also wrote a draft edotorial for a special issue I am guest editing together with Prof. Arja Aro from Denmark on risk perceptions and risk communication related to emerging infectious diseases. To control new infectious diseases the identification of the organisms, the infectivity, development of vaccines and therapies, contact tracing, isolation, and screening may all be important. Many of these issues are partly dependent on human behaviours. For example, the success of prevention of infectivity (e.g. engaging in precautionary behaviours such as wearing masks, hand hygiene, isolation etc.), vaccination, contact tracing and population screening are all more or less dependent on whether people at risk comply with behavioural recommendations. Especially in the early phases of a possible epidemic, compliance to precautionary behaviours among the populations at risk is often the only means of prevention of a further spread of the disease. However, very little research has been conducted to explore the determinants of behavioural responses to infectious disease outbreaks, and risk perceptions and communications are regarded as important factors for behavioral responses. The International Journal of Beavioral Medicine now prepares this special issue on this important topic.
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