Saturday, May 12, 2012

Self-Reported Physical Activity and Quality of Life among Cancer Survivors

Physical activity (PA) is suggested to be an important non-pharmacologic means to improve health-related outcomes among cancer survivors. In a paper just published in the journal Plos ONE, with Dr. Laurien Buffart as first author, we aimed to describe PA levels and its association with health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors.
CRC survivors identified from the Eindhoven Cancer Registry treated between 1998 and 2007 were included in the study. These CRC survivors completed questionnaires to assess their PA, HRQoL and a range of other factors and issues such as their experienced distress and fatigue.
We found that moderate to vigorous PA among CRC survivors was associated with higher physical quality of life, and that this association was mediated by distress and fatigue. These results suggest that more PA may lead to lower levels of distress and fatigue and that lower distress and fatigue improves  quality of life, but more rigorous research is needed to further confirm these findings.

Sitting Time and Metabolic Health in Dutch and Hungarian schoolchildren

Sitting time, or 'sedentary behavior' may have negative health consequences, independent of physical activity; thus, even when one is sufficiently physically active, prolonged or extensive sedentary time may contribute to higher risk for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, overweight and obesity. However, these associations need to be researched in more detail and in more rigorous studies.
The association between objectively assessed sedentary time and metabolic risk factors in childhood has hardly been studied at all. Therefore, we examined the independent relationship between objectively assessed and self-rated sedentary time and indicators of metabolic health in Dutch and Hungarian 10–12 year olds. The research paper reporting on this study, led by Dr. Mai Chin A Paw, was just published in the journal Plos ONE.
Sedentary time was measured using accelerometers and the children self-reported their TV and computer time. Weight, height and waist circumference of the kids were measured and fasting plasma glucose, C-peptide, total cholesterol, low density lipoprotein cholesterol, high density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides were determined in capillary blood and summed into a metabolic risk score.
Children spent on average 7.6 hours of their daily waking time in sedentary behavior and self-reported 116664 min/day watching TV and 85657 min/day using the computer. Comparing the quartile of kids with highest with the quartile of kids with the lowest objectively assessed sedentary time, we found that the most sedentary kids had higher body weights (BMI) bigger waists and higher C-Peptide levels. The difference in the total, overall metabolic risk score was only borderline significant. When we compared the kid who watched most TV with those who watched least we found that among the TV kids, BMI was significantly higher.
In summary: although BMI and WC were higher in the most sedentary versus the least sedentary children; we found no further consistent evidence that the most sedentary children were at increased metabolic risk.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Delfien van Dyck defended her thesis in Ghent

Yesterday Delfien van Dyck received her doctorate at Ghent University after successfully defending her thesis ' The physical environment and its association with physical activity and sedentary behaviors in adults and adolescents'. I had the honor to be part of the examination committee. Dr. van Dyck has written an exceptionally good thesis in the field of behavioral nutrition and physical activity. Her thesis comprises 16 scientific papers, most of these published in the best journals in the field. Before her defense she gave a very lively, clear and scientifically sound public lecture about her work, and after that she did a very good job in discussing her work with the examination committee.
The day after the thesis defense, Dr. van Dyck and her primary supervisor, Prof. Ilse de Bourdeaudhuij organized a symposium on behavioral nutrition and physical activity issues with four presentations. Profs. David Crawford (Deakin University, Australia), Neville Owen (Barker IDI, Australia), Jim Sallis (University of California, USA) and myself presented some of our work and discussed this with an audience of scientists, policy makers and people active in health promotion practice. The discussion focussed strongly on what the main drivers of healthy nutrition and physical activity behaviors are, the opportunities for health behavior in the environments where people live, or the individual motivations and abilities that people have for living healthily.

The ENERGY symposium at the European Conference on Obesity

This Wednesday we had the final symposium of the ENERGY project on overweight, obesity and its determinants in school children across Europe. Just two weeks after the publication of the first main results paper published in Plos ONE and the substantial media attention for the project, we presented an overview of the project at a pre-conference symposium in Lyon, i.e. before the European Conference on Obesity. Dr. Amika Singh, the project's coordinator at EMGO+/VU University medical Center in Amsterdam, introduced the project, I presented the results of the cross sectional ENERGY study, and Dr. Elling Bere from the University of Agder, Norway, presented the design and results of the intervention study. Three eminent 'discussants', i.e. Profs Wolfgang Ahrens from Bremen University, Germany, and David Crawford from Deakin University, Australia, and Michel Chauliac, the Director of Nutrition Programmes at the Ministry of Health of France commented upon and discussed our results.