Saturday, December 6, 2008

Five days in Minneapolis

These last five days I visited the Division of Epidemiology of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
Drs. Simone French and Robert Jeffery invited me to give two lectures, to discuss mutual research interests, and to visit with a number of colleagues from the division as well as from the departments of psychology, kinesiology and of food science and nutrition, i.e. departments with which the division of epidemiology has close collaborations in inter- and trans-disciplinary research.
The division has a strong focus on behavioural nutrition and physical activity research, especially related to obesity prevention. The division has managed to get a number of key players in this field together in one centre, which creates the right focus and mass to do the meaningful, necessary interdisciplinary studies. The research is organised in different research centres, e.g. on nutrition, physical activity, obesity research, social epidemiology and cardiovascular research. I believe there are great similarities between the division and the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, and especially with its Lifestyle, Obesity and Diabetes program.
It was cold in Minneapolis, but I managed to get some outdoor physical activity by running at minus 14 Celsius along the Mississippi river. I was also treated to very good food and nutrition while here. Minneapolis restaurants serve very nice food, although I was a bbit shocked when I noticed pieces of bacon in an ice cream desert that one of my dinner companions had chosen. I was quickly informed that this was a rather innocent use of pork fat. I was told that at the Minnesota State Fair, held each year right in between the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, they serve bacon lollies covered in maple syrup, and chocolate bars with pieces of bacon have even been introduced. Well, as my colleague noticed, most things taste better with chocolate while most other things taste better with bacon, so why not combine the two.