Friday, October 26, 2012

How good are the studies that evaluatie front of pack food labeling?

front of pack labels on food products are very common nowadays. They are meant to help consumers make informed decisions regarding what they buy and eat. The effects of such front of pack labels on consumer and producer behavior has been evaluated in a number of studies. In a earlier published studies we, with Dr. Ellis Vyth as first author, studied the effects of the choices / 'ik kies bewust' logo, and found that such a logo appears to be more effective in encouraging food producers to make 'healthier' food products -i.e. food products that comply to the logo's standards -, than in promoting healthier choices among consumers. Dr. Vyth has subsequently taken the lead in providing an overview of studies evaluation front of pack logo's and has reviewed the methodological quality of such studies. A paper describing this review just appeared in e-pub in the journal Nutrition Reviews. The quality of 31 studies was assessed. The results showed that the methodological quality of published front-of-pack labeling research is generally low to mediocre; objective observational data-based consumer studies were of higher quality than consumer studies relying on self-reports. Experimental studies that included a control group were lacking. The review further revealed a lack of a validated methodology to measure the use of front-of-pack labels and the effects of these labels in real-life settings. In conclusion, few methodologically sound front-of-pack labeling studies are presently available. The evidence for effects for front of pack labeling is thus weak.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Peter Kapitein received his honorary doctorate

Friday October 19 the Dies Natalis of the VU University was celebrated. At this annual event Peter Kapitein, founding father of the Alpe D'HuZes foundation and Inspire2Live, and the personification of patient advocate for patient participation in research, treatment, care and policy regarding cancer prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, received an honorary doctorate.
before this event a symposium was held, organised by Peter Kapitein together with the VUmc Cancer Center Amsterdam (VUmc-CCA). At this symposium, in a full Amsterzaal -with over 200 attendees -, the director of VUmc-CCA and professor of Hematology Prof. Peter Huijgens first discussed issues, dilemma's and progress in cancer treatment and care with two patients. Thereafter, the tow endowed chairs of Alpe D'HuZes -Profs Irma Verdonck and Ellen Kampman presented and discussed their work in research on 'living with cancer'  and 'nutrition and cancer', and Prof Guus van Dongen presented the developments in and future promise of advanced imaging techniques in realizing a more personalized cancer treatment. After a short brake, Stephen Friend the President of Sage Bionetworks, and Prof. Hans Clevers, the president of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, provided presentations. Friend presented his views that understanding human biology requires a new community-based vision of open access innovation that respects and links all stakeholders -including patients, researchers, medical professional, policy makers, and industry- and supports a new culture of cooperative, data-intensive science. He pledged to take up this challenge and for this he has drafted the Sage Bionetworks Commons Principles to guide the development of an open source community where computational biologists can develop and test competing models built from common resources.
Prof. Clevers presented his work on the origins of colon cancer.
After the symposium the attendees rushed to the Dies Natalis event to witness the ceremony granting the honorary doctorate to Peter Kapitein.