Saturday, June 18, 2011


Just a bit more than an hour ago the 10th annual meeting of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, held in Melbourne Australia, ended. The conference was three days of energizing and inspiring presentations and discussions of cuting edge research on nutrition, physical activity and sedentary behaviors. The focus of the society is on the associations of these  behaviors with a variety of health outcomes, the determinants of engagement is these behaviors and ways to motivate, enable and facilitate people across the life course to engage in healthful eating and physical activity.

The conference ended today with a very funny as well as very serious debate on where the in most countries relatively tiny budget available for promotion of healthful eating and physical activity should be invested: in the young only, or not (and thus also in the old(er)). Three experts argued for each side, and in different forms, including a rap act, a home movie on one of the experts young and old dog's, preaching and plain old argumentation. Professors Jim Sallis, Louis Barr and Dr. Karen Campbell argued in favour of the proposition by binging forward that health behaviors track from childhood into adulthood, that epigenetic influences at a very young age may make people more liable for chronic disease across their life span and many arguments more. The opposition consisted of Profs. Tony Worsely, Adrian Bauman and Abby King, and they argued that the largest burden of chronic disease is in midlife and the elderly, that lifestyle behavior changes in adults and elderly have a much faster return on investment, that adults and the elderly provide role models for the young and meny arguments more. It was very lively debate, and at the end the team arguing against the propostion were declared the winners, based on the strength of theur argumentation as well as the show they performed to bring their arguments across.
The debate waa follwoed by the announcement of the prices for the best presentations from young investigators, farewell words of the outgoing president of the society (Prof Knut Inge Klepp), some words of thanks from the chair of the local organising committee and the incoming president (Prof. David Crawford), and a great performance by the chair of the local organising committee for next year's conference (in Austin, Texas), Prof. Deanna Hoelscher.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A joint EMGO+ - C-PAN pre-ISBNPA meeting

Two days before the actual kick-off of the tenth annual meeting of the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA) in Melbourne, we organised a pre-conference meeting to celebrate and confirm the very fruitful collaboration between the behavioral nutrition & physical activity research groups of EMGO+ (VU University and VU Medical Center) and of the Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN) (Deakin University).
After introductions and words of welcome from the two directors of EMGO+  and C-PAN, i.e. myself and Prof. David Crawford, researchers from both institutes presented overviews of different research lines, e.g. on pricing and labeling strategies to influence nutrition behaviors, on studies on disparities in behavioral nutrition and physical activity according to socio-economic status, on determinants and intervantions on sedentary behaviors, on genetic and environmental determinants of nutrition and physical activity behaviors, et cetara. Thereafter, three guests, (associate) Profs. Annie Anderson, Frank van Lenthe and Stuart Biddle, provided overviews on where they think the field of behavioral nutrition and physical activity is especially in need of further research. At the end of the day, researchers from broke out in small group sessions to develop innovative research ideas for joint projects.
The success of the collaboration between the two centers so far is illustrated by the fact that we have an intensive exchange program, with 9 researchers having visited C-PAn from EMGO+ or vice versa for a few weeks up to a couple of months, and by five joint externally funded research projects, sponsored by for example the European Commission and the World Cancer Research fund, as well as more than 10 joint international publications (the link provides some examples) and more than others 10 under review.