The last months of 2012 were filled with activities that helped move forward my main agendas of researching solutions to physical inactivity and chronic diseases and getting the research used in policy and practice.
I attended the International Conference on Physical Activity and Public Health in Sydney, Australia in early November. It was wonderful meeting with so many colleagues. I was involved in the meeting through roles as a presenter, discussant, and supporter of others.
In Sydney we had productive meetings of the Council on Physical activity and the Environment (CEPA). Leadership was turned over to Takemi Sugiyama and Jacqueline Kerr. There are opportunities to join workgroups, so see the CEPA website for more information.
Also in Sydney we had excellent meetings of IPEN (International Physical activity and Environment Network) investigators. IPEN Adult investigators met for 1.5 days to make progress on papers using data from 12 countries. This was the first meeting of IPEN Adolescent investigators, and it was inspiring to see such a great collaborative spirit from people from 14 countries. www.ipenproject.org
On my way home from Sydney I met with colleagues in Taiwan to support them in developing IPEN projects. Jin Jong Chen is leading efforts to conduct a project with seniors, and Ling Ling Lee is pursuing a study of adolescents.
This fall I benefitted from attending two Robert Wood Johnson Foundation meetings. In late October I enjoyed a conference celebrating 40 years of RWJF’s remarkable accomplishments. In mid-November I learned about the RJWF Childhood Obesity Team’s major new partnership with the American Heart Association during a meeting in Dallas. I not only participated in a workshop on communicating research to practitioners and policy makers, but I helped lead a “gangnam style” activity break.
In Phoenix, I participated in two meetings related to Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) for Physical Activity, sponsored by Arizona State University and the American College of Sports Medicine. There is significant funding for CER, and it is essential that physical activity is well represented in this research program. I encourage US investigators to look for ways to become involved in CER and submit proposals to PCORI.
The first week of December was very special to me. In 1990 I met my first Czech friend, just as they were emerging from decades of Soviet domination. Josef Hrebicek introduced me to his colleagues at Palacky University in Olomouc. I have worked with them as their research evolved from a focus on elite sports performance to public health promotion. I have had many opportunities to visit their beautiful city, several Czechs have visited San Diego, and Karel Fromel and Josef Mitas are now leading IPEN studies in the Czech Republic. I was honored to receive an honorary doctoral degree from the Faculty of Physical Culture on December 5.
I am a member of the Steering Committee on Health Disparities for the American Psychological Association. I was pleased to be at the meeting on tobacco health disparities in Washington DC on December 10 and 11, at which I learned a great deal.
Though I have pointed to evidence that physical inactivity is too low a priority at the National Institutes of Health (such as, not being listed among 360 funding areas), NIH certainly has supported most of the amazing progress in physical activity research that has occurred in the past few decades. Thus, I was enthusiastic about participating in the workshop on Identifying Research Priorities on Physical Activity and Disease Prevention that was held on the NIH campus on December 13 and 14. This is the beginning of a process that will hopefully lead to higher priority for physical activity across multiple Institutes as well as specific funding commitments.
My NIH connection continued in a most unusual way, with a trip to Kuwait to provide advice on developing an obesity research agenda in that country. The health toll of obesity and diabetes makes it appropriate that the NIH effort is led by the National Institute on Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases.