Saturday, May 24, 2008

The 7th ISBNPA conference is almost over.

In a few hours the closing ceremony of the 7th annual meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity will take place. On this final day of the meeting we enjoyed a ‘battle of the giants’. Professors Tom Baranowski and Gaston Godin, two former presidents of the society and two of the founding fathers of the society held a keynote debate on objective or self-report measures of physical activity.

Measurement of physical activity and nutrition behaviors comes with many challenges. Most behavioural nutrition and physical activity research relied and still relies on self-report measures. Such measures are liable to many biases, and we just do not have truly valid self report measures. In recent years more ‘objective’ measures of nutrition and physical activity behaviours have been developed, such as biomarkers, observations, real time monitoring. But such measures may be strong interventions in itself.

Tom argued for using objective measures and moving away from self-report measures, preferably completely, since these measures have too low validity to be used in intervention or determinant studies, and he provided convincing evidence to support that. Gaston argued that we need self report measures, since the available objective measures are not by definition valid measures, and can often not be used in ‘real life’ population studies, again supported by convincing evidence.

The 7th ISBNPA conference was very interesting, with keynotes on the ethics of obesity prevention, the use of theory in development of physical activity interventions, the genetics of obesity and nutrition behaviours, symposiums on a great variety of behavioural nutrition and physical activity topics, and many more oral and poster presentations on cutting edge themes.

Next year’s conference will be in lovely Lisbon. For more information on this year’s (including the program and abstract book) and next year’s conference, see:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

ISBNPA 2008 has started.

Yesterday evening here in Banff, Alberta, Canada, the 7th annual conference of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity started with a word of welcome by Wendy Rodgers, the chair of the local organising committee, myself as president of the society, and a keynote address by Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, professor at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, USA.

After a full meeting of the executive committee of the society where we followed up on important issues such as renewing the society’s website, preparation for next year’s conference, the society’s financial status, et cetera, the conference actually started. Dr. Katmarzyk builds a case for research on the importance of the ‘physical activity transition’ as an important determinant of changes in mortality and morbidity trends. We are all familiar with the concept of the epidemiological transition, and most nutritionists have read Barry Popkin’s work on the nutrition transition, i.e. the changes in diet and nutrition that have driven associated changes in important burdens of disease, i.e. from infectious diseases and diseases related to under-nutrition, to diseases of affluence and over-nutrition, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers. Dr. Katmarzyk argued that a physical activity transition has at least been of similar importance.