Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A systematic review of studies on the association between food envrionments and obesogenic dietary behaviors

Earlier this months a new systematic review study was published that I co-authored. Dr. Katrina Giskes of  the School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia was first authors. The review was conducted as part of the Health promotion through Obesity Prevention in Europe (HOPE) project, a European Commission supported study in its 6th framework program.
The review examined whether physical, social, cultural and economical environmental factors (see the ANGELO model for a framework in which these different environmental factors are described) are associated with obesogenic dietary behaviours and overweight/obesity among adults. Literature searches of the most relevant databases of scientific literature identified original studies examining the different environmental factors and their associations with consumption of energy, fat, fibre, fruit, vegetables, sugar-sweetened drinks, meal patterns and weight status. Twenty-eight studies were selected;  the majority (16) of these studies were conducted in the USA. Being overweight or obese was consistently associated with the food environment; greater accessibility to supermarkets or less access to takeaway outlets were associated with a lower BMI or lower prevalence of overweight/obesity. However, obesogenic dietary behaviours did not mirror these associations; mixed associations were found between the environment and obesogenic dietary behaviours. Living in a socioeconomically-deprived area was the only environmental factor consistently associated with a number of obesogenic dietary behaviours. Associations between the environment and weight status appear to be more consistent than that seen between the environment and dietary behaviours. The environment may play an important role in the development of overweight/obesity, however the dietary mechanisms that contribute to this remain unclear and the physical activity environment is also likely to play an important role in weight gain, overweight and obesity.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Energy Symposium at ICO conference

Last week we show cased our ENERGY project (ENERGY stands for EuropeaN Energy balance Research to prevent excessive weight Gain among Youth) at the International Confernece on Obesity in Stockholm Sweden. Amika Singh, the ENERGY coordinator organised the symposium. I chaired the symposium in which Energy principal investigators Carolyn Summerbell, Lea Maes, Mai Chin A Paw, Jurgen Jensen and Yannis Manios gave short presentations on energy balance behaviors, on mediators and moderators of these dietary, physical activity and sedentary behaviors, of possible economic strategies to influence these behaviors, and about the design and proceedings of a large cross sectional survey we are conducting across Europe, involving almost 10,000 children and one of their parents, to gain more insight into these issues, to inform the development and formative evaluation of a school-based, family involved intervention scheme aiming to contribute to obesity prevention in school-aged children in Europe. The presentations were discussed and reacted upon by two of the leading obesity prevention researchers, Boyd Swinburn from Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, and Jane Wardle form University College, London.

Ruhr 2010: Cycling on a major freeway.

The ‘Ruhrgebiet’, i.e. the Ruhr metropolis, the area between Duisburg and Dortmund in Germany is one of the cultural capitals of Europe in 2010. The area show cases its industrial cultural heritage, with Essen and its former coal industry complex Zollverein as one of the highlights. Yesterday, July 18, one of the main attractions of Ruhr 2010 was ‘Still-Leben Ruhrschnellweg A-40’ or still life with Freeway a-40. The A-40 is one of the major freeways in the Ruhr metropolis. But last Sunday all motorized traffic was banned over a 60 km stretch, and the freeway was turned into a 60 k picnic table on one side, and a 60 k cycling freeway on the other. Millions of cyclist came to experience the ‘still life’, with major bicycle traffic jams as a result. Click here for some pictures.