Thursday, June 9, 2011

For whom and under what circumstances do school-based interventions to promote energy balance behaviors work?

The aim of a review recently published on-line by Mine Yildirim et al. in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity was to systematically review the results and quality of studies investigating the so-called moderators of schoolbased interventions aimed at energy balance-related behaviors (diet, phsyical activity and sedentary behaviors). Such moderators tell us for whom and under what circumstances these interventions are effective or not. In total 61 original studies were included in our review. Gender, ethnicity, age, baseline values the different behaviors, weight status and socioeconomic status were the most frequently studied potential moderators of intervention effects. Gender was found to be a consistent moderator of intervention effects, i.e. school-based interventions appear to work differently for boys and gilrs, and our review evidence suggests that such interventions generally work better among girls.  For the other potential moderators, there were just not enough studies of good enough quality to draw further conclusions. Consequently, our review revealed that there is still lack of insight into what interventions work for whom and that future studies should do better jobs to explore if and how intervention effects differ among different target group segments.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Keep cycling!

The objective of the study recently published by Dr. Elling Bere et al. in the International Journal of Pediatric Obesity was to assess the longitudinal association between cycling to school and weight status in two cities where cycling to school is common - Kristiansand (Norway) and Rotterdam (The Netherlands). Data from the ENDORSE (Rotterdam) and YOUTH IN BALANCE (Kristiansand) studies were used. Both studies were longitudinal studies with two years between the two measurements and both studies were among students in early adolesence (13.2 and 13.4 years at the start of the study). We categorized the students according to their mode of commuting to school at the two measurements: NO cycling at both measurements, STARTED cycling to school, STOPPED cycling and CONTINUED cycling. Measured weight and height were obtained at both time points, and weight status (overweight vs. not overweight) was calculated using international classification criteria for BMI from the International Obesity Task Force. The two datasets were analyzed separately and together. The results showed that those who stopped cycling had a three times greater odds of being overweight at the end of the study while those continued cycling had more than half the odds of being overweight, as compared to the other three groups together. The same trend was observed in both study samples. This study thus indicates that kids should continue to cycle to school; it is not only a fun, fit and environmentally friendly means of transportation, it may also help to avoid becoming overweight.

Dr. Laurien Buffart is granted a ‘Bas Mulder Award’

This year for the first time the prestigious Bas Mulder Awards were granted by the Netherlands Cancer Society on behalf of the Alpe D’Huzes Foundation. This Bas Mulder Award – named after and in remembrance of Bas Mulder; who was a living example of the Alpe D’Huzes mission but who died of cancer in 2009 at the age of 24- is a personal grant aimed at “grooming talent” in the field of research that contributes to longer and better lifes for cancer patients. Laurien Buffart will receive her approximately 650,000 Euro grant on the mountain where next Thursday for the sixth year in a row thousands of cyclists will pedal up and down Alpe D'Huez to raise money for cancer research. Last year, Laurien participated in this Alpe D'Huzes event herself with two teams of VU University Medical Center researchers to contribute to the fund raiser. Laurien, who already co-leads the A-CaRe research program to improve cancer rehabilitation at the EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, will use her award to further organise an international consortium, hire two PhD students and together build an international database of data from randomized controlled trials testing exercise and psychosocial support interventions aiming to improve quality of life of cancer patients and survivors. This database will then be used for a series of meta analyses to better understand why, for whom and under what circumstances these interventions work in order to develop better tailored quality of life improving interventions in the years to come.